Biodiversity & Conservation

Amphiura filiformis and Echinocardium cordatum in circalittoral clean or slightly muddy sand



Image Keith Hiscock - Amphiura filiformis arms visible in circalittoral muddy sand. Image width ca 30 cm
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Distribution map

SS.SMu.CSaMu.AfilMysAnit recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

  • EC_Habitats
  • UK_BAP

Marine natural heritage importance

Listed under EC Habitats Directive
UK Biodiversity Action Plan
National importance Not available
Habitat Directive feature (Annex 1) Large shallow inlets and bays

Biotope importance

  • If present in high numbers Amphiura filiformis provides an important link between the benthic and pelagic environments because it seems to be important in the diets of many fish and invertebrate predators including dab Limanda limanda, haddock Melanogrammus aeglefinus and Norwegian lobster Nephrops norvegicus (Baden et al., 1990). These predators do not generally consume the entire brittle star but crop only the arms, which are later regenerated. An energy budget estimated for the Amphiura filiformis population of Galway Bay suggested that arm regeneration contributed significantly to the total annual production of this species (O'Connor et al., 1986).
  • The opening of the burrows of Callianassa subterranea provide temporary refuge for fish such as the black goby Gobius niger and the sand goby Pomatoschistus minutus as well as occasional errant polychaetes, particularly polynoid worms, which inhabit the burrows (Nickell & Atkinson, 1995).


The biotope does not contain any commercially important species such as Nephrops norvegicus and so is not likely to be subject to exploitation.

Additional information icon Additional information

This review can be cited as follows:

Hill, J.M. 2004. Amphiura filiformis and Echinocardium cordatum in circalittoral clean or slightly muddy sand. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 28/11/2015]. Available from: <>