Biodiversity & Conservation

Underboulder communities



Image Keith Hiscock - Underboulder community dominated by sponges from a rock pool habitat. Wembury, South Devon. Image width ca 1 m.
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Distribution map

LR.MLR.BF.Fser.Fser.Bo 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 Common
Habitat Directive feature (Annex 1) Reefs
Large shallow inlets and bays

Biotope importance

Important as a shelter for mobile species not usually considered a part of the community. Underboulder communities may be especially important for juvenile lobsters (Foster-Smith, pers. comm.).


Lobsters and winkles are collected from underboulder habitats for human consumption and crabs and shrimps are also collected, primarily for bait (Foster-Smith, pers. comm.). Both activities are very common in some areas e.g. Northumberland (Foster-Smith, pers. comm.). There is incidental damage to communities by crushing when boulders are returned and much greater damage if boulders are left upturned (see Sensitivity).

Additional information icon Additional information

Boulder habitats are a part of "Reefs" in Annex 1 of the Habitats Directive and also occur in "Large shallow inlets and bays" and in "Estuaries".

This review can be cited as follows:

Hiscock, K. 2005. Underboulder communities. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 26/11/2015]. Available from: <>