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Marine Habitat Classification


2 results for 'SS.SMx.CMx.OphMx'

   SS.SMx.CMx.OphMx  Ophiothrix fragilis and/or Ophiocomina nigra brittlestar beds on sublittoral mixed sediment

Circalittoral sediment dominated by brittlestars (hundreds or thousands m-2) forming dense beds, living epifaunally on boulder, gravel or sedimentary substrata. Ophiothrix fragilis and Ophiocomina nigra are the main bed-forming species, with rare examples formed by Ophiopholis aculeate. Brittlestar beds vary in size, with the largest extending over hundreds of square metres of sea floor and containing millions of individuals. They usually have a patchy internal structure, with localized concentrations of higher animal density. Ophiothrix fragilis or Ophiocomina nigra may dominate separately or there may be mixed populations of the two species. Ophiothrix beds may consist of large adults and tiny, newly-settled juveniles, with animals of intermediate size living in nearby rock habitats or among sessile epifauna. Unlike brittlestar beds on rock, the sediment based beds may contain a rich associated epifauna (Warner, 1971; Allain, 1974; Davoult & Gounin, 1995). Large suspension feeders such as the octocoral Alcyonium digitatum, the anemone Metridium senile and the hydroid Nemertesia antennina are present mainly on rock outcrops or boulders protruding above the brittlestar-covered substratum. The large anemone Urticina feline may be quite common. This species lives half-buried in the substratum but is not smothered by the brittlestars, usually being surrounded by a 'halo' of clear space (Brun, 1969; Warner, 1971). Large mobile animals commonly found on Ophiothrix beds include the starfish Asterias rubens, Crossaster papposus and Luidia ciliaris, the urchins Echinus esculentus and Psammechinus miliaris, edible crabs Cancer pagurus, swimming crabs Necora puber, Liocarcinus spp., and hermit crabs Pagurus bernhardus. The underlying sediments also contain a diverse infauna including the bivalve Abra alba. Warner (1971) found that numbers and biomass of sediment dwelling animals were not significantly reduced under dense brittlestar patches.

   SS.SBR.SMus.ModHAs  Modiolus modiolus beds with fine hydroids and large solitary ascidians on very sheltered circalittoral mixed substrata

Beds or scattered clumps of Modiolus modiolus in generally sheltered conditions with only slight tidal movement. Typically occurs in sea lochs and the Shetland voes. Brittlestars Ophiothrix fragilis and Ophiocomina nigra, as well as Ophiopholis aculeata are often frequent, sometimes forming a dense bed as described in SS.SMx.CMx.OphMx. The queen scallop Aequipecten opercularis is often present in moderate abundances. Large solitary ascidians (Ascidiella aspersa, Corella parallelogramma, Dendrodoa grossularia) and fine hydroids (Kirchenpaueria pinnata) are present attached to the mussel shells. Decapods such as hermit crabs (Pagurus bernhardus) and spider crabs (Hyas araneus) are typically present. Coralline algal crusts may be found on the mussel shells, with some red seaweeds in shallower water such as Phycodrys rubens. Little information on the infaunal component is given here although it is likely that it is very rich and may highlight more subtle differences in the Modiolus biotopes.
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