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Marine Habitat Classification


8 results for 'SS.SSa.IMuSa.FfabMag'

   SS.SSa.IMuSa.FfabMag  Fabulina fabula and Magelona mirabilis with venerid bivalves and amphipods in infralittoral compacted fine muddy sand

In stable, fine, compacted sands and slightly muddy sands in the infralittoral and littoral fringe, communities dominated by venerid bivalves such as Chamelea gallina occur. This biotope may be characterised by a prevalence of Fabulina fabula and Magelona mirabilis or other species of Magelona (e.g. M. filiformis). Other taxa, including the amphipod Bathyporeia spp. and polychaetes such as Chaetozone setosa, Spiophanes bombyx and Nephtys spp. are also commonly recorded. In some areas the bivalve Spisula elliptica may also occur in this biotope in low numbers. The community is relatively stable in its species composition, however, numbers of Magelona and F. fabulina tend to fluctuate. Around the Scilly Isles numbers of F. fabulina in this biotope are uncommonly low whilst these taxa are often found in higher abundances in muddier communities (presumably due to the higher organic content). In deeper, offshore variants of this biotope, although still present, there is a reduction in the component species F. fabula, whilst Magelona filiformis, Bathyporeia spp., annelid and nemertean worms, and Amphiuridae may be more common. Consequently, it may be better to revise this biotope on the basis of less ubiquitous taxa such as key amphipod species (E.I.S. Rees pers. comm. 2002) although more data is required to test this. SS.SSa.IMuSa.FfabMag and SS.SCS.ICS.MoeVen are collectively considered to be the 'shallow Venus community' or 'boreal off-shore sand association' of previous workers (see Petersen 1918; Jones 1950; Thorson 1957). These communities have been shown to correlate well with particular levels of current induced 'bed-stress' (Warwick & Uncles 1980). The 'Arctic Venus Community' and 'Mediterranean Venus Community' described to the north and south of the UK (Thorson 1957) probably occur in the same habitat and appears to be the same biotope described as the Ophelia borealis community in northern France and the central North Sea (K?nitzer et al. 1992). Sites with this biotope may undergo transitions in community composition. The epibiotic biotopes SS.SSa.IMUSa.EcorEns and SS.SSa.IMuSa.AreISa may also overlay this biotope in some areas.

   SS.SSa.IMuSa.SsubNhom  Spisula subtruncata and Nephtys hombergii in shallow muddy sand

In shallow non-cohesive muddy sands, in fully marine conditions, a community characterised by the bivalve Spisula subtruncata and the polychaete Nephtys hombergii may occur. The sediments in which this community is found may vary with regard to silt content but they generally have less than 20% silt/clay and in some areas may contain a degree of shell debris. This biotope falls somewhere between SS.SSa.IMuSa.FfabMag and SS.SSa.CMuSa.AalbNuc with regard to sediment type (i.e. somewhat muddier than SS.SSa.IMuSa.FfabMag and less muddy than SS.SSa.CMuSa.AalbNuc) and may have species in common with both. As a result, other important species in this community include Abra alba, Fabulina fabula and Kurtiella bidentata. In addition, Diastylis rathkei/typical, Philine aperta (in muddier sediments), Ampelisca spp., Ophiura albida, Phaxas pellucidus and occasionally Bathyporeia spp, may also be important, although this is not clear from the data available. In areas of slightly coarser, less muddy sediment S. solida or S. elliptica may appear occasionally in this biotope. Abundances of Spisula subtruncata in this biotope are often very high and distinguish it from other closely related biotopes. Extensive areas of this community to the north east of the Dogger Bank were recorded in the 1950s, but these seem to have declined since then (Kroncke 1990). More information is required with regard to the status of this biotope.

   SS.SCS.ICS.MoeVen  Moerella spp. with venerid bivalves in infralittoral gravelly sand

Infralittoral medium to coarse sand and gravelly sand which is subject to moderately strong water movement from tidal streams may be characterised by Moerella spp. with the polychaete Glycera lapidum (agg.) and venerid bivalves. Typical species include Asbjornsenia pygmaea or M. donacina with other robust bivalves such as Dosinia lupinus, Timoclea ovata, Goodallia triangularis and Chamelea gallina. Other infauna include nephtyid and spionid polychaetes and amphipod crustacea. Another important component of this biotope in some areas is the bivalve Spisula solida (see Kuehne & Rachnor 1996) which may be common or abundant. In conjunction with SS.SSa.IMuSa.FfabMag this biotope may form part of the 'Shallow Venus Community', the 'Boreal Off-shore Sand Association' and the 'Goniadella-Spisula association' of previous workers (see Petersen 1918; Jones 1951; Thorson 1957; Salzwedel, Rachor & Gerdes 1985). Epifaunal communities may be reduced in this biotope when compared to SS.SSa.IMuSa.FfabMag; both types may have surface sand waves which may be indicative of the presence of venerid bivalves (Warwick & Davies 1977). This hypothesis, however, requires testing. Remote grab sampling is likely to under-estimate venerid bivalves and other deep-burrowing and more dispersed species such as Paphia, Ensis and Spatangus. In southern areas of the UK and the North Sea, in slightly siltier sand and shelly sand, SS.SCS.ICS.MoeVen may give way to the other Spisula biotope SS.SSa.IMuSa.SsubNhom. Together these two biotopes replace the old biotope IGS.FaG.Sell. A variation of the biotope may include the presence of maerl, which may support diverse epifaunal communties and act as a transition between biotopes.

   SS.SSa.IFiSa.NcirBat  Nephtys cirrosa and Bathyporeia spp. in infralittoral sand

Well-sorted medium and fine sands characterised by Nephtys cirrosa and Bathyporeia spp. (and sometimes Pontocrates spp.) which occur in the shallow sublittoral to at least 30 m depth. This biotope occurs in sediments subject to physical disturbance, as a result of wave action (and occasionally strong tidal streams in outer estuarine variants of the biotope). The magelonid polychaete Magelona mirabilis may be frequent in this biotope in more sheltered, less tideswept areas whilst in coarser sediments the opportunistic polychaete Chaetozone setosa may be commonly found. The faunal diversity of this biotope is considerably reduced compared to less disturbed biotopes (such as SS.SSa.IMuSa.FfabMag) and for the most part consists of the more actively-swimming amphipods. Sand eels Ammodytes sp. may occasionally be observed in association with this biotope (and others) and spionid polychaetes such as Spio filicornis and S. martinensis may also be present. Occasional Lanice conchilega may be visible at the sediment surface. Variants of the biotope in coarser sediment may have more variable fauna, with the absence of Nephtys, and presence of bryozoans, such as Crisia, however retain examples of Bathyporeia spp. and Magelona spp.

   SS.SCS.ICS.SLan  Dense Lanice conchilega and other polychaetes in tide-swept infralittoral sand and mixed gravelly sand

Dense beds of Lanice conchilega occur in coarse to medium fine gravelly sand in the shallow sublittoral, where there are strong tidal streams or wave action. Several other species of polychaete also occur as infauna e.g. Spiophanes bombyx, Scoloplos armiger, Chaetozone setosa and Magelona mirabilis. Lanice beds are found in a wide range of habitats including muddier mixed sediment. The dense Lanice biotope (LS.LSa.MuSa.Lan) on certain lower shores may be a littoral extension of the current biotope. The presence of L. conchilega in high numbersmay, over time, stabilise the sediment to the extent where a more diverse community may develop. Possibly, as a result of this, there is a high level of variation with regard the infauna found in SS.SCS.ICS.SLan. It is likely that a number of sub-biotopes may subsequently be identified for this biotope. Offshore from the Wash and the North Norfolk coast Lanice beds are often found intermixed with Sabellaria spinulosa beds in muddier mixed sediment, particularly in the channels between the shallow sandbanks, which are prevalent in this area. It is possible that the presence of Lanice has stabilised the habitat sufficiently to allow the deposition of finer material, which has subsequently assisted the development of S. spinulosa. It may be more accurate to define SS.SCS.ICS.SLan as an epibiotic biotope which overlays a variety of infaunal biotopes (e.g. SS.SSa.IFiSa.NcirBat in finer sands and SS.SSa.CMuSa.AalbNuc or SS.SSa.IMuSa.FfabMag in slightly muddier areas).

   SS.SMp.SSgr.Zmar  Zostera marina/angustifolia beds on lower shore or infralittoral clean or muddy sand

Expanses of clean or muddy fine sand and sandy mud in shallow water and on the lower shore (typically to about 5 m depth) can have dense stands of Zostera marina/angustifolia [Note: the taxonomic status of Z. angustifolia is currently under consideration]. In SS.Smp.SSgr.Zmar the community composition may be dominated by these Zostera species and therefore characterised by the associated biota. Other biota present can be closely related to that of areas of sediment not containing Zostera marina, for example, Saccharina latissima, Chorda filum and infaunal species such as Ensis spp. and Echinocardium cordatum (e.g. Bamber 1993). From the available data it would appear that a number of sub-biotopes may be found within this biotope dependant on the nature of the substratum and it should be noted that sparse beds of Zostera marina may be more readily characterised by their infaunal community. For example, coarse marine sands with seagrass have associated communities similar to SS.SCS.ICS.MoeVen, SS.SCS.ICS.SLan or SS.SCS.ICS.Glap whilst muddy sands may have infaunal populations related to SS.SSa.IMuSa.EcorEns, SS.SMu.IMuSa.AreISa and SS.SSa.IMuSa.FfabMag. Muddy examples of this biotope may show similarities to SS.SMu.ISaMu.CundAasp, SS.SMu.IFiMu.PhiVir, SS.SMu.IFiMu.Are or SS.SMu.CSaMu.AfilKurAnit. At present the data does not permit a detailed description of these sub-biotopes but it is likely that with further study the relationships between these assemblages will be clarified. Furthermore, whilst the Zostera biotope may be considered an epibiotic overlay of established sedimentary communities it is likely that the presence of Zostera will modify the underlying community to some extent. For example, beds of this biotope in the south-west of Britain may contain conspicuous and distinctive assemblages of Lusitanian fauna such as Laomedea angulata, Hippocampus spp. and Stauromedusae. In addition, it is known that seagrass beds play an important role in the trophic status of marine and estuarine waters, acting as an important conduit or sink for nutrients and consequently some examples of Zostera marina beds have markedly anoxic sediments associated with them.

   SS.SSa.IMuSa.EcorEns  Echinocardium cordatum and Ensis spp. in lower shore and shallow sublittoral slightly muddy fine sand

Sheltered lower shore and shallow sublittoral sediments of sand or muddy fine sand in fully marine conditions, support populations of the urchin Echinocardium cordatum and the razor shell Ensis siliqua or Ensis ensis. Other notable taxa within this biotope include occasional Lanice conchilega, Pagurus, Liocarcinus spp. and Asterias rubens. This biotope has primarily been recorded by epifaunal dive, video or trawl surveys where the presence of relatively conspicuous taxa such as E. cordatum and Ensis spp. have been recorded as characteristic of the community. However, these species, particularly E. cordatum, have a wide distribution and are not necessarily the best choice for a characteristic taxa (Thorson, 1957). Furthermore, detailed quantitative infaunal data for this biotope is rather scarce, possibly as a result of survey method as remote grab sampling is likely to under-estimate deep-burrowing species such as Ensis sp. (Warwick & Davis 1977). Consequently, it may be better to treat this biotope as an epibiotic overlay which is likely to overlap with a number of other biotopes such as SS.SSa.IMuSa.FfabMag, SS.SSa.IFiSa.NcirBat and SS.SSa.CMuSa.AalbNuc with infaunal components of these biotopes occurring within SS.SSa.IMuSa.EcorEns. The precise nature of this infaunal community will be related to the nature of the substratum, in particular the quantity of silt/clay present. Infaunal species may include the polychaetes Spiophanes bombyx, Magelona mirabilis, Nephtys cirrosa and Chaetozone setosa and the amphipod Bathyporeia spp. This biotope is currently broadly defined and needs further consideration as to whether it should be placed at biotope or biotope complex level. SS.SSa.IMuSa.AreISa is another biotope based primarily on epibiotic data. It is likely that this biotope and SS.SSa.IMuSa.EcorEns form a wider epibiotic sand /muddy sand community with SS.SSa.IMuSa.EcorEns biased towards sandier areas and SS.SSa.IMuSa.AreISa towards slightly muddier areas.

   SS.SCS.CCS.MedLumVen  Mediomastus fragilis, Lumbrineris spp. and venerid bivalves in circalittoral coarse sand or gravel

Circalittoral gravels, coarse to medium sands, and shell gravels, sometimes with a small amount of silt and generally in relatively deep water (generally over 15-20 m), may be characterised by polychaetes such as Mediomastus fragilis, Lumbrineris spp., Glycera lapidum with the pea urchin Echinocyamus pusillus. Other taxa may include Nemertea spp., Protodorvillea kefersteini, Owenia fusiformis, Spiophanes bombyx and Amphipholis squamata along with amphipods such as Ampelisca spinipes. This biotope may also be characterised by the presence of conspicuous venerid bivalves, particularly Timoclea ovata. Other robust bivalve species such as Moerella spp., Glycymeris glycymeris and Astarte sulcata may also be found in this biotope. Spatangus purpureus may be present especially where the interstices of the gravel are filled by finer particles, in which case, Gari tellinella may also be prevalent (Glemarec 1973). Venerid bivalves are often under-sampled in benthic grab surveys and as such may not be conspicuous in many infaunal datasets. Such communities in gravelly sediments may be relatively species-rich and they may also contain epifauna such as Hydroides norvegicus and Spirobranchus lamarcki. In sand wave areas this biotope may also contain elements of the SS.SSa.IMuSa.FfabMag biotope, particularly Magelona species. This biotope has previously been described as the 'Deep Venus Community' and the 'Boreal Off-Shore Gravel Association' (Ford 1923; Jones 1950) and may also be part of the Venus community described by Thorson (1957) and in the infralittoral stage described by Glemarec (1973). SS.SCS.CCS.MedLumVen may be quite variable over time and in fact may be closer to a biotope complex in which a number of biotopes or sub-biotopes may yet be defined. For example, Ford (1923) describes a 'Series A' and a 'Series B' characterised by Echinocardium cordatum-Chamelea gallina and Spatangus purpurea-Clausinella fasciata. Furthermore, mosaics of cobble and lag gravel often contain ridges of coarse gravelly sand and these localised patches are also characterised by robust veneriid and similar bivalves including Arcopagia crassa, Laevicardium crassum and others including Glycymeris glycymeris (E.I.S. Rees pers. comm., 2002). In the presence of pebbles, cobbles or shell, in coarse sandy gravel sediment, the biotope may support encrusting fauna such as hydroids, Sertularia cupressina and Hydrallmania falcata, bryozoa including Disporella hispida, Schizomavella spp., and Escharella immersa and encrusting polychaetes, Spirobranchus triqueter and instances of Sabellaria spinulosa. In the presence of these encrusting forms, and with the transition of sediment types to more tidally swept circalittoral mixed sediment, the biotope may form a transition to SS.SMx.CMx.FluHyd. Other variants in gravel, sands and stones in circalittoral waters, from records in the east English Channel, show this biotope may support high densities of polychaetes and copepods, Nematoda and Nemertea. The biotope may be represented in moderately exposed, shallower areas, with muddy mixed gravel or sand with shell sediments and maerl (Hapalidiaceae), supporting the characteristic fauna of Mediomastus and Hilbigneris gracilis, but absence of venerid bivalves. Furthermore, in impoverished variants of the biotopes, there may be a reduced component of Mediomastus and Hilbigneris gracilis.
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