Biodiversity & Conservation

Hediste diversicolor and Macoma balthica in sandy mud shores



Image Roger Covey - Upper shore mud with Hediste holes and tracks. Image with ca XX cm.
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Distribution map

LS.LMU.SMu.HedMac recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

  • EC_Habitats
  • UK_BAP

Species indicative of sensitivity

To assess the sensitivity of the biotope, the sensitivity of component species is reviewed. Those species that are considered to be particularly indicative of the sensitivity of the biotope, and for which research has been undertaken in detail are shown below (see selection criteria). The biology of other component species of the biotope is also taken into account wherever information is known to the researcher.

Community Importance Species name Common Name
Important characterizing Hediste diversicolor Ragworm
Important characterizing Macoma balthica Baltic tellin
Important other Aphelochaeta marioni A bristleworm
Important other Cerastoderma edule Common cockle


Hediste diversicolor and Macoma balthica are both species which are characteristic of the biotope and are important for its classification. Loss of either of these species from the biotope would result in loss of the biotope itself. However, the loss of either of the species would be unlikely to have significant knock-on effects for the rest of the community as other species exist which fulfil similar ecological roles. Hediste diversicolor and Macoma balthica are therefore defined as 'important characterizing' but not 'key'.
Aphelochaeta marioni is a good example of the deposit feeding polychaetes in the biotope and is useful to consider when assessing biotope sensitivity. Similarly, Cerastoderma edule is a good example of the suspension feeding bivalves. Both species are therefore categorised as 'important other'.

Additional information

This review can be cited as follows:

Rayment, W.J. 2001. Hediste diversicolor and Macoma balthica in sandy mud shores. 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: <>