information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Sparse fauna (barnacles and spirorbids) on sand/pebble-scoured rock in littoral caves



UK and Ireland classification

UK and Ireland classification


Upper to lower shore sand- or pebble-scoured cave walls characterized by an impoverished faunal assemblage which may include bryozoan crusts, scattered sponges Halichondria panicea, barnacles such as Semibalanus balanoides or often large Balanus crenatus and the limpet Patella vulgata. The isopod Ligia oceanica may seek refuge in crevices in the rock, and due to the decreased effect of desiccation in these damp caves, other species such as the anemone Actinia equina and spirorbid polychaetes are able to extend further up the shore than normally found on open rock. The lower section of the wall which is subject to greatest scour may be characterized by a band of Spirobranchus triqueter and spirorbid tube-forming polychaetes. In wave sheltered conditions, this biotope may extend to the cave ceiling. The rear of caves on the lower shore may support only sparse fauna consisting of spirorbid polychaetes and barnacles such as Chthamalus montagui with scattered Spirobranchus sp., scattered bryozoan and coralline crusts and in the south-west, occasional Sabellaria alveolata. Shade-tolerant red algae such as Lomentaria articulata may occasionally occur. Due to the low species abundance in this biotope, there may be a variation from cave to cave, depending on local conditions (JNCC, 2015).

Depth range

Mid shore

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Sensitivity reviewHow is sensitivity assessed?



Species indicative of sensitivity


Physical Pressures

No sensitivity data available

Chemical Pressures

No sensitivity data available

Biological Pressures

No sensitivity data available

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This review can be cited as:

Tillin, H.M. 2016. Sparse fauna (barnacles and spirorbids) on sand/pebble-scoured rock in littoral caves. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 19-06-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 22/03/2016