Biodiversity & Conservation

Sabellaria alveolata reefs on sand-abraded eulittoral rock



Image Rohan Holt - Sabellaria alveolata reefs on sand abraded eulittoral rocks. Image width ca 150 cm.
Image copyright information

  • #
Distribution map

LS.LBR.Sab.Salv recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

  • EC_Habitats
  • UK_BAP

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

In Britain, %Sabellaria alveolata% distribution is restricted to south and west coasts with the eastern limit in Lyme Bay. The northern limit is the outer Solway Firth. It is also found on south, west and north coasts of Ireland. To date, MLR.Salv has only been recorded in the Solway Firth and along the Cumbrian coast, western Wales, and the Severn Estuary. In Northern Ireland reefs have been recorded from the Down coast (Rossglass and Glassdrummand) although surveys are incomplete. It has also been recorded at two sites in Ireland, Ballycotton Bay (south) and Killala Bay, (north-west).

Habitat preferences

Temperature range preferences - See additional information.

Water clarity preferences - Very high clarity / Very low turbidity
High clarity / Low turbidity
Medium clarity / Medium turbidity

Limiting Nutrients - No information found

Other preferences - Availability of sand grains.

Additional information

Although identified in the Severn Estuary, the habitat is rather different and the assemblage present is not likely to be the same as in occurrences of the biotope more typically found on open coasts. At Glasdrummand (Northern Ireland), the Sabellaria alveolata reefs extend into the subtidal. Optimal temperatures are probably higher than those typically found in the waters of the British Isles. There needs to be an adequate supply of suspended coarse sand grains in order for Sabellaria alveolata to be able to build their tubes.

Temperature preferences
The growth of Sabellaria alveolata is severely restricted below 5 °C (Gruet, 1982, cited in Holt et al., 1998). Cunningham et al. (1984) reported increasing growth rates with temperatures up to 20 °C.

This review can be cited as follows:

Jackson, A. 2005. Sabellaria alveolata reefs on sand-abraded eulittoral 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: <>