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SS.SBR.PoR.SspiMx
Sabellaria spinulosa on stable circalittoral mixed sediment

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Habitat (physical) description

Distribution

 Salinity: Full (30-35 ppt) 
 Wave exposure: Moderately exposed, Sheltered 
 Tidal streams: Strong (3-6 kn), Moderately strong (1-3 kn) 
 Substratum: Mixed sediment of sandy mud, muddy sand with gravel pebbles and cobbles 
 Zone: Circalittoral 
 Depth Band: 10-20 m, 20-30 m 
 Other Features:  

Download comparative physical and biological data. The comparative tables enable a rapid comparison of the species composition and principal physical characteristics between a given set of biotopes.

Previous code

This biotope occurred in previous versions of the classification as:
CMX.SspiMx - Version: 97.06

Distribution of habitat SS.SBR.PoR.SspiMx  Sabellaria spinulosa on stable circalittoral mixed sediment
Distribution of habitat SS.SBR.PoR.SspiMx Sabellaria spinulosa on stable circalittoral mixed sediment, 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

The tube-building polychaete Sabellaria spinulosa at high abundances on mixed sediment. These species typically forms loose agglomerations of tubes forming a low lying matrix of sand, gravel, mud and tubes on the seabed. The infauna comprises typical sublittoral polychaete species such as Protodorvillea kefersteini, Pholoe synophthalmica, Harmothoe spp, Scoloplos armiger, Mediomastus fragilis, Lanice conchilega and cirratulids, together with the bivalve Abra alba, and tube building amphipods such as Ampelisca spp. The epifauna comprise a variety of bryozoans including Flustra foliacea, Alcyonidium diaphanum and Cellepora pumicosa, in addition to calcareous tubeworms, pycnogonids, hermit crabs and amphipods. The reefs formed by Sabellaria consolidate the sediment and allow the settlement of other species not found in adjacent habitats leading to a diverse community of epifaunal and infauna species. The development of such reefs is assisted by the settlement behaviour of larval Sabellaria which are known to selectively settle in areas of suitable sediment and particularly on existing Sabellaria tubes (Tait and Dipper, 1997; Wilson 1929). These reefs are particularly affected by dredging or trawling and in heavily dredged or disturbed areas an impoverished community may be left (e.g. Pkef) particularly if the activity or disturbance is prolonged. However, it is likely that reefs of S. spinulosa can recover quite quickly from short term or intermediate levels of disturbance as found by Vorberg (2000) in the case of disturbance from shrimp fisheries and recovery will be accelerated if some of the reef is left intact following disturbance as this will assist larval settlement of the species.

Situation

S. spinulosa reefs are often found in areas with quite high levels of natural sediment disturbance

Temporal variation

In some areas the reefs are periodically destroyed by storm events leading to a cyclical shift in biotopes from SspiMx to other biotopes e.g. Pkef or AalbNuc with re-establishment of the Sabellaria colonies in the following year.

Similar biotopes

CR.MCR.CSab.SspiSabellaria on rock often with more associated hard substratum species. On sediment Sabellaria changes the habitat

Characterising Species

Taxa Frequency Typical Abundance % Contribution to similarity Abundance (no.2)
Halichondria panicea O 2
Dysidea fragilis O 2
Tubularia indivisa O 2
Hydrallmania falcata R 4
Nemertesia antennina O 1
Urticina felina O 4
Nemertea C 4 42
Nematoda F 1 88
Harmothoe impar C 3 89
Pholoe synophthalmica F 4 49
Eteone longa P 2 22
Eumida sanguinea A 1 17
Nereis longissima P 2 14
Protodorvillea kefersteini F 4 61
Scoloplos armiger A 3 107
Minuspio cirrifera F 1 14
Aphelochaeta marioni C 2 94
Caulleriella zetlandica F 4 83
Chaetozone setosa A 1 198
Mediomastus fragilis C 4 383
Sabellaria spinulosa A 27 1316
Sabellaria spinulosa C 22
Lanice conchilega O 1
Lanice conchilega C 3 121
Pomatoceros triqueter F 4
Balanus crenatus O 5
Ampelisca diadema C 2 182
Ampelisca spinipes F 3 72
Pagurus bernhardus F 9
Calliostoma zizyphinum R 1
Buccinum undatum R 3
Abra alba C 4 143
Alcyonidium diaphanum O 6
Flustra foliacea O 16
Cellepora pumicosa F 2
Asterias rubens O 1
Dendrodoa grossularia O 2

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