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

Oligochaetes in full salinity littoral mobile sand



UK and Ireland classification

UK and Ireland classification


A species-poor community of oligochaetes occurring in fully marine conditions on open shores with mobile, medium to fine, usually clean, sand. Oligochaetes, including enchytraeid oligochaetes, constitute the infaunal assemblage. On rare occasions individuals of polychaete or crustacean species may be encountered (e.g. Nephtys spp., Eurydice pulchra, Bathyporeia spp.), though these are not characterising for the biotope and if present in any significant abundance, the area should be classed as AmSco (JNCC, 2015).

Depth range

Upper shore, Mid shore, Lower shore

Additional information


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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

Additional information



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  7. Bouchet, V.M. & Sauriau, P.-G., 2008. Influence of oyster culture practices and environmental conditions on the ecological status of intertidal mudflats in the Pertuis Charentais (SW France): A multi-index approach. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 56 (11), 1898-1912.

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  9. Commito, J.A. & Boncavage, E.M., 1989. Suspension-feeders and coexisting infauna: an enhancement counterexample. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 125 (1), 33-42.

  10. Commito, J.A., 1987. Adult-larval interactions: predictions, mussels and cocoons. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 25, 599-606.

  11. Delefosse, M., Banta, G.T., Canal-Vergés, P., Penha-Lopes, G., Quintana, C.O., Valdemarsen, T. & Kristensen, E., 2012. Macrobenthic community response to the Marenzelleria viridis (Polychaeta) invasion of a Danish estuary. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 461, 83-94.

  12. Dernie, K.M., Kaiser, M.J., Richardson, E.A. & Warwick, R.M., 2003. Recovery of soft sediment communities and habitats following physical disturbance. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology, 285-286, 415-434.

  13. Elliot, M., Nedwell, S., Jones, N.V., Read, S.J., Cutts, N.D. & Hemingway, K.L., 1998. Intertidal sand and mudflats & subtidal mobile sandbanks (Vol. II). An overview of dynamic and sensitivity for conservation management of marine SACs. Prepared by the Scottish Association for Marine Science for the UK Marine SACs Project.

  14. EMU, 1992. An experimental study on the impact of clam dredging on soft sediment macro invertebrates. English Nature Research Reports. No 13.

  15. Gamenick, I., Jahn, A., Vopel, K. & Giere, O., 1996. Hypoxia and sulphide as structuring factors in a macrozoobenthic community on the Baltic Sea shore: Colonization studies and tolerance experiments. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 144, 73-85.

  16. Giere, O., 1977. An ecophysiological approach to the microdistribution of meiobenthic Oligochaeta. I. Phallodrilus monospermathecus (Knöllner)(Tubificidae) from a subtropical beach at Bermuda. Biology of benthic organisms. Pergamon Press New York, 285-296.

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  19. Giere, O., Preusse, J. & Dubilier, N. 1999. Tubificoides benedii (Tubificidae, Oligochaeta) - a pioneer in hypoxic and sulfide environments. An overview of adaptive pathways. Hydrobiologia, 406, 235-241.

  20. Gillett, D.J., Holland, A.F. & Sanger, D.M., 2007. On the ecology of oligochaetes: monthly variation of community composition and environmental characteristics in two South Carolina tidal creeks. Estuaries and Coasts, 30 (2), 238-252.

  21. Goulletquer, P. & Heral, M., 1997. Marine molluscan production trends in France: from fisheries to aquaculture. NOAA Tech. Rep. NMFS, 129.

  22. Gray, J.S., 1971. The effects of pollution on sand meiofauna communities. Thalassia Jugoslovica, 7, 76-86.

  23. Hall, J.A. & Frid, C.L.J., 1995. Response of estuarine benthic macrofauna in copper-contaminated sediments to remediation of sediment quality. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 30, 694-700.

  24. Haskoning UK Ltd. 2006. Investigation into the impact of marine fish farm deposition on maerl beds. Scottish Natural Heritage Commissioned Report No. 213 (ROAME No. AHLA10020348).

  25. Hunter, J., & Arthur, D.R., 1978. Some aspects of the ecology of Peloscolex benedeni Udekem (Oligochaeta: Tubificidae) in the Thames estuary. Estuarine and Coastal Marine Science, 6, 197-208.

  26. JNCC, 2015. The Marine Habitat Classification for Britain and Ireland Version 15.03. JNCC: JNCC. 2015(20/05/2015).

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  28. Leppäkoski, E., 1975. Assessment of degree of pollution on the basis of macrozoobenthos in marine and brackish water environments. Acta Academiae Åboensis, Series B, 35, 1-90.

  29. Linke, O., 1939. Die Biota des Jadebusenwatts. Helgolander Wissenschaftliche Meeresuntersuchungen, 1, 201-348.

  30. McLusky, D.S., 1982. The impact of petrochemical effluent on the fauna of an intertidal estuarine mudflat. Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science, 14, 489-499.

  31. McLusky, D.S., Teare, M. & Phizachlea, P., 1980. Effects of domestic and industrial pollution on distribution and abundance of aquatic oligochaetes in the Forth estuary. Helgolander Wissenschaftliche Meeresuntersuchungen, 33, 384-392.

  32. Nugues, M., Kaiser, M., Spencer, B. & Edwards, D., 1996. Benthic community changes associated with intertidal oyster cultivation. Aquaculture Research, 27 (12), 913-924.

  33. Parr, W., Clarke, S.J., Van Dijk, P., Morgan, N., 1998. Turbidity in English and Welsh tidal waters. Report No. CO 4301/1 to English Nature.

  34. Pearson, T.H. & Rosenberg, R., 1978. Macrobenthic succession in relation to organic enrichment and pollution of the marine environment. Oceanography and Marine Biology: an Annual Review, 16, 229-311.

  35. Rygg, B., 1985. Effect of sediment copper on benthic fauna. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 25, 83-89.

  36. Sheehan, E., Coleman, R., Thompson, R. & Attrill, M., 2010. Crab-tiling reduces the diversity of estuarine infauna. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 411, 137-148.

  37. Studentowicz, J., 1936. Der Einfluss des Lichtes auf das Verhalten des Oligochaeten Enchytraeus albidus Henle: Bulletin International Academy of Polish Science Letters, Series B. .

  38. Tang, M. & Kristensen, E., 2010. Associations between macrobenthos and invasive cordgrass, Spartina anglica, in the Danish Wadden Sea. Helgoland Marine Research, 64 (4), 321-329.

  39. Van den Broek, W., 1978. Dietary habits of fish populations in the Lower Medway Estuary. Journal of Fish Biology, 13 (5), 645-654.

  40. Van Hoey, G., Guilini, K., Rabaut, M., Vincx, M. & Degraer, S., 2008. Ecological implications of the presence of the tube-building polychaete Lanice conchilega on soft-bottom benthic ecosystems. Marine Biology, 154 (6), 1009-1019.

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  43. Zühlke, R. & Reise, K., 1994. Response of macrofauna to drifting tidal sediments. Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen, 48 (2-3), 277-289.


This review can be cited as:

Tillin, H.M. 2016. Oligochaetes in full salinity littoral mobile sand. 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 18-06-2018]. Available from:

Last Updated: 01/06/2016