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LS.LSa.FiSa.Po
Polychaetes in littoral fine sand

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Habitat (physical) description

Distribution

 Salinity: Full (30-35 ppt) 
 Wave exposure: Moderately exposed, Sheltered 
 Tidal streams:  
 Substratum: Medium and fine sand 
 Zone:  
 Depth Band: Lower shore, Mid shore 
 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:
LGS.S.AP.P (part) - Version: 97.06
LGS.S.AP.Pon (part) - Version: 97.06
LSND.AP (part) - Version: 6.95

Distribution of habitat LS.LSa.FiSa.Po  Polychaetes in littoral fine sand
Distribution of habitat LS.LSa.FiSa.Po Polychaetes in littoral fine 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

Moderately exposed or sheltered beaches of medium and fine, usually clean, sand, though the sediment may on rare occasions contain a small silt and clay fraction. The sediment is relatively stable, remains damp throughout the tidal cycle, and contains little organic matter. It is often rippled and typically lacks an anoxic sub-surface layer. Where an anoxic layer is present, it occurs at a depth below 10 cm and tends to be patchy. The biotope occurs mainly on the lower part of the shore, and relatively frequently on the mid shore. It is only rarely present above mid shore level, except where coastal defences cause backwash onto the upper shore. Conditions are usually fully marine, though the biotope can also occur in open lower estuarine conditions. The infaunal community is dominated by a range of polychaete species such as Nephtys cirrosa, Paraonis fulgens, Spio spp., Pygospio elegans, Ophelia rathkei and Scoloplos armiger. The presence of polychaetes may be seen as coloured burrows running down from the surface of the sediment, and Arenicola marina casts may be present on the sediment surface. The amphipods Bathyporeia spp. and Pontocrates arenarius frequently occur, and nemerteans are often present. On some North Wales shores, the presence of Arenicola species characterises the lowest part of the shore, with a range of species characteristic of the shallow sublittoral. These include sparsely distributed Echinocardium, Amphiura brachiata, Ensis siliqua and Fabulina fabula. The Po biotope is split into three sub-biotopes, between which there can be a large degree of overlap. The bivalve Angulus tenuis dominates the Po.Aten sub-biotope, which is characterised by slightly more stable and fine sediments than the other two sub-biotopes.

Situation

The Po biotopes may be present below the AmSco communities or Ol.FS on moderately exposed shores. BarSa may occur on the upper part of the shore if it is subject to drying in between tides. The strandline biotope Tal may be present on the same shore where driftlines of decomposing seaweed and other debris occur on the upper shore.

Temporal variation

The infauna of this biotope may be affected significantly by seasonal changes in degree of wave exposure. During stormy winters, the sediment may become de-stabilised, leading to the disappearance of some macroinfaunal species. The lugworm A. marina may be present occasionally, usually as a temporary recruitment and is likely to be washed out during storms.

Similar biotopes

LS.LSa.MoSa.AmScoOccurs in more mobile, slightly coarser sands, sometimes higher on the shore or on more wave exposed beaches. The infaunal community is a lot less diverse, as fewer species are able to survive the harsher environmental conditions. The infauna is dominated by burrowing amphipods, and the polychaete Scolelepis spp.
LS.LSa.MuSa.LanOccurs lower on the shore. It is distinguished from the Po communities by the presence of Lanice conchilega as the main polychaete component at densities of common or above.

Characterising Species

Taxa Frequency Typical Abundance % Contribution to similarity Abundance (no.2)
Nemertea P 2 19
Nephtys cirrosa C 8 42
Scoloplos armiger C 1 19
Paraonis fulgens A 5 72
Pygospio elegans F 2 69
Spio filicornis C 3 60
Spiophanes bombyx C 1 20
Pontocrates arenarius F 1 30
Bathyporeia pilosa C 3 260
Angulus tenuis A 57 313

Example photographs of biotope


Newton Haven sands with Arenicola marina., Emblestone, Newton., Eleanor Murray, © JNCC Newton Haven sands with Arenicola marina., Emblestone, Newton., Eleanor Murray, © JNCC Dug up sand showing worms in it, Craig-y-Penrhyn transect, Dyfi estuary., Ian Reach, © JNCC
Click on an image for a larger view


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