Biodiversity & Conservation

Limnodrilus hoffmeisteri, Tubifex tubifex and Gammarus spp. in low salinity infralittoral muddy sediment


<i>%Limnodrilus hoffmeisteri%</i>, <i>%Tubifex tubifex%</i> and <i>Gammarus</i> spp. in low salinity infralittoral muddy sediment
Distribution map

SS.IMU.EstMu.LimTtub recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

  • EC_Habitats

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.

Species found especially in this biotope

  • Limnodrilus hoffmeisteri
  • Tubifex tubifex
Community Importance Species name Common Name
Key functional Limnodrilus hoffmeisteri An oligochaete
Key functional Tubifex tubifex An oligochaete
Important other Gammarus spp. A gammarid shrimp


The cohesive muds of upper estuaries under tidal freshwater may be dominated by the oligochaete worms, Limnodrilus hoffmeisteri and Tubifex tubifex, besides being important characterizing species that are tolerant of very low interstitial salinity, they are primarily considered to be key functional species. They represent a major pathway for the transfer of energy from the sediment to secondary consumers (see productivity) and through their subsurface ingestion of organic matter and surface egestion, they regulate the depth of the anoxic layer to some extent, as biological and chemical oxidation proceeds more rapidly in oxygenated water at the surface than by anaerobic processes at depth (see ecological relationships). In their absence the cohesive mud of very low interstitial salinity, may become anoxic owing to bacterial degradation of the often considerable amount of organic matter within the sediment. A significant change in the infaunal community may occur.
Gammarid shrimps e.g. Gammarus zaddachi and Gammarus salinus are errant species that migrate into upper estuary tidal waters at certain times of the year, whilst they are not restricted to the biotope, their presence may affect the sensitivity of the biotope.

Additional information

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This review can be cited as follows:

Budd, G.C. 2002. Limnodrilus hoffmeisteri, Tubifex tubifex and Gammarus spp. in low salinity infralittoral muddy sediment. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 21/04/2014]. Available from: <>