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LS.LSa
Littoral sand

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Habitat (physical) description

Distribution

 Salinity: Full (30-35 ppt), Variable (18-35 ppt) 
 Wave exposure: Exposed, Moderately exposed, Sheltered, Very sheltered 
 Tidal streams:  
 Substratum: Sand; muddy sand 
 Zone:  
 Depth Band: Lower shore, Mid shore, Strandline, Upper shore 
 Other Features:  

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Distribution of habitat LS.LSa  Littoral sand
Distribution of habitat LS.LSa Littoral sand, based on records on the UK Marine Recorder database and EUSeaMap. Red dots represent records on which the biotope is based. Blue dots show other certain records, black dots show records tentatively assigned to this biotope. Yellow areas show level 2 and 3 sublittoral and deep-sea habitats prediced by EUSeaMap within UK waters.

Biotope description

Shores comprising clean sands (coarse, medium or fine-grained) and muddy sands with up to 25% silt and clay fraction. Shells and stones may occasionally be present on the surface. The sand may be duned or rippled as a result of wave action or tidal currents. Littoral sands exhibit varying degrees of drying at low tide depending on the steepness of the shore, the sediment grade and the height on the shore. The more mobile sand shores are relatively impoverished (MoSa), with more species-rich communities of amphipods, polychaetes and, on the lower shore, bivalves developing with increasing stability in finer sand habitats (FiSa). Muddy sands (MuSa), the most stable within this habitat complex, contain the highest proportion of bivalves.

Situation

A strandline of talitrid amphipods (Tal) typically develops at the top of the shore where decaying seaweed accumulates. Fully marine sandy shores occur along stretches of open coast, whilst muddy sands are often present in more sheltered lower estuarine conditions and may be subject to some freshwater influence.

Temporal variation

Littoral sandy shore environments can change markedly over seasonal cycles, with sediment being eroded during winter storms and accreted during calmer summer months. The particle size structure of the sediment may change from finer to coarser during winter months, as finer sediment gets resuspended in seasonal exposed conditions. This may affect the sediment infauna, with some species only present in summer when sediments are more stable. More sheltered muddy sand shores are likely to be more stable throughout the year, but may have a seasonal cover of green seaweeds during the summer period, particularly in nutrient enriched areas or where there is freshwater input.

Similar biotopes

Not applicable or unknown.

Characterising Species

Characterising species data not applicable.

Example photographs of biotope

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Version 15.03 of the classification adds a deep-sea section to version 04.05; therefore superseding version 04.05, 97.06 and 03.02.

This online classification should be cited as:

JNCC (2015) The Marine Habitat Classification for Britain and Ireland Version 15.03 [Online]. [Date accessed]. Available from: jncc.defra.gov.uk/MarineHabitatClassification

Information from the shallower section (up to sublittoral sediment, taken from Version 04.05) be cited as the report accompanying Version 04.05, as follows:

CONNOR, D.W., J.H. ALLEN, N.GOLDING, K.L.HOWELL, L.M. LIEBERKNECHT, K.O. NORTHEN AND J.B. REKER (2004) The Marine Habitat Classification for Britain and Ireland Version 04.05. In: JNCC (2015) The Marine Habitat Classification for Britain and Ireland Version 15.03 [Online]. [Date accessed].
Available from: jncc.defra.gov.uk/MarineHabitatClassification
ISBN 1 861 07561 8


Information from the deep-sea section (added in March 2015) should be cited as the report accompanying the deep-sea section, as follows:

PARRY, M.E.V., K.L. HOWELL, B.E. NARAYANASWAMY, B.J. BETT, D.O.B. JONES, D.J. HUGHES, N. PIECHAUD, T.D. NICKELL, H. ELLWOOD, N. ASKEW, C. JENKINS and E. MANCA (2015) A Deep-sea Section for the Marine Habitat Classification of Britain and Ireland. JNCC report 530. In: JNCC (2015) The Marine Habitat Classification for Britain and Ireland Version 15.03 [Online]. [Date accessed].
Available from: jncc.defra.gov.uk/MarineHabitatClassification
ISSN 0963 8901