BIOTIC Species Information for Abra alba
Researched byLizzie Tyler Data supplied byUniversity of Sheffield
Refereed byThis information is not refereed.
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandWidespread around the British Isles.
Global distributionAbra alba is distributed from the Norwegian Sea and the Baltic, south to the Iberian Peninsula, into the Mediterranean and Black Seas, and south along the coast of Africa to Senegal.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth range0 - 60 m
MigratoryNon-migratory / Resident   
Distribution Additional InformationDispersal of post-larval bivalve molluscs
The mechanism termed 'byssus drifting' has been observed in 20 species of bivalve molluscs, including Abra alba, and is the mechanism by which post-larval bivalves enter a second pelagic migratory stage. Young bivalves secrete a single, long thread which increases the drag acting upon them and enables them to be carried along on the current. The drag increase was found to be a factor of 3 to 30 times greater on byssus secreting bivalves than on inactive ones (Sigurdsson et al., 1976). Abra alba were observed to re-enter the water column after larval settlement in the Bay of Seine (Olivier et al., 1996). The post-larvae and juveniles of Abra alba were most abundant at flood tide velocities . Furthermore, Abra alba were found to vary significantly in their vertical distribution in the water column, the species decreasing in abundance with distance from the sea bed. It was noted that Abra alba juveniles can regulate their vertical position in the flow, to some extent, by opening their valves to different extents (Olivier et al., 1996).

Substratum preferencesMuddy gravel
Sandy mud
Muddy sand
Physiographic preferencesOpen coast
Offshore seabed
Strait / sound
Enclosed coast / Embayment
Biological zoneSublittoral Fringe
Upper Infralittoral
Lower Infralittoral
Upper Circalittoral
Lower Circalittoral
Wave exposureSheltered
Tidal stream strength/Water flowWeak (<1 kn)
SalinityFull (30-40 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional Information
Distribution References Tebble, 1976, Sigurdsson et al., 1976, JNCC, 1999, NBN, 2002, Picton & Costello, 1998, Olivier et al., 1996,
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