Biodiversity & Conservation

Ruppia maritima in reduced salinity infralittoral muddy sand



Image Anon. - Ruppia maritima in reduced salinity infralittoral muddy sand. Image width ca 40 cm.
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Distribution map

SS.SMp.SSgr.Rup recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

  • EC_Habitats

Marine natural heritage importance

Listed under EC Habitats Directive
National importance Uncommon
Habitat Directive feature (Annex 1) Sandbanks which are slightly covered by sea water all the time

Biotope importance

Ruppia spp. communities provide primary productivity to brackish water environments and add habitat complexity to otherwise low diversity habitats. Ruppia spp. and other aquatic plants and seagrass provide primary productivity to surrounding communities and deeper waters via the detrital food chain. In addition, they support significant invertebrate secondary productivity. Ruppia beds provide temporary substratum for juvenile settlement and a refuge from predation for some species. The invertebrate population they support is probably an important food source for small predatory fish such as sticklebacks and pipefish as well as waterfowl.

Ruppia species themselves provide a food source for some wildfowl, especially the coots (Fulica atra) and the wigeon (Anas penelope) (see ecological relationships). Ruppia species and other aquatic plants are cultivated and managed in artificial wetlands in the U.S.A as wildfowl feeding areas (Verhoeven & van Vierssen, 1978; Verhoeven, 1980b; Kantrup, 1991; Rodwell, 2000).


Ruppia beds are managed in wetlands as wildfowl feeding areas, especially in North America. However, no information concerning the exploitation of Ruppia beds in the British Isles was found.

Additional information icon Additional information

This biotope occurs in lagoonal habitats, which are rare and unusual habitats in the UK and regarded as a UK Biodiversity Action Plan habitat. Lagoons support rare and scarce species of plants and animals, e.g. the nationally scarce foxtail stonewort Lamprothamnium papulosum may occur in this biotope and is protected under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1985. This biotope was considered to be uncommon by the MNCR but Rodwell (2000) presented a wider distribution.

This review can be cited as follows:

Tyler-Walters, H. 2001. Ruppia maritima in reduced salinity infralittoral muddy sand. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 29/11/2015]. Available from: <>