Biodiversity & Conservation

Sabellaria spinulosa crusts on silty turbid circalittoral rock



Image Anon. - Sabellaria spinulosa crusts on silty turbid circalittoral rock. Image width ca 10 cm.
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Distribution map

CR.MCR.CSab.Sspi.As 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 Not available
Habitat Directive feature (Annex 1) Reefs
Large shallow inlets and bays

Biotope importance

Few species are believed to feed on Sabellaria spinulosa. The presence of brittle stars can provide a food source for mobile species such as predatory starfish (Asterias rubens, Marthasterias glacialis and Luidia ciliaris) or wrasse. The structural complexity of the biotope created by the Sabellaria spinulosa crust, Ophiothrix fragilis and other species such as Alcyonium digitatum may provide substrata and shelter, temporary or otherwise.


The biotope itself is unlikely to be exploited. Reefs of Sabellaria spinulosa that may be trawled for shrimps are found on sediments and are not this biotope. Species in the biotope are unlikely to be exploited.

Additional information icon Additional information

The UK BAP for Sabellaria spinulosa reefs is most likely to be a different biotope: CMX.SpiMx (Sabellaria spinulosa and Polydora sp. on stable circalittoral mixed sediment). There has been considerable concern about decline in Sabellaria spinulosa reefs and shrimp fisheries have been implicated in the decline. However, Vorberg (2000) could find no damage caused after experiments with shrimp trawls in the Wadden Sea and suggests that declines might be more associated with changing patterns of currents perhaps associated with construction, dredging and dumping.

This review can be cited as follows:

Jackson, A. & Hiscock, K. 2006. Sabellaria spinulosa crusts on silty turbid circalittoral rock. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 01/12/2015]. Available from: <>