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

Saccharina latissima and Psammechinus miliaris on variable salinity grazed infralittoral rock



UK and Ireland classification

UK and Ireland classification


Sheltered bedrock, boulders and cobbles, in areas of reduced salinity, with kelp Saccharina latissima, and depauperate coralline-encrusted rock supporting few foliose seaweeds but many grazing urchins Psammechinus miliaris and Echinus esculentus. The coralline crusts are typically Lithothamnion glaciale, while the brown crusts can be Pseudolithoderma extensum. Encrusting polychaetes Spirobranchus (formerly Pomatoceros) triqueter, resistant to the grazing, are also present on most of the rock. The grazing fauna are a significant component of this biotope; large numbers of Psammechinus miliaris are typically present, although where absent the brittlestar Ophiothrix fragilis may occur. Other grazers prevalent on the rock include the chitonTonicella marmorea, the limpet Tectura testudinalis and the gastropod Gibbula cineraria. A combination of grazing pressure and lowered salinity maintains a low diversity of species in this biotope, with foliose and filamentous seaweeds generally absent or reduced to small tufts by grazing. In stark contrast to the range of seaweeds present in the Laminaria saccharina forests (Slat.Ft) the only red seaweed consistently found in this biotope is Phycodrys rubens. The range of fauna is similarly low, with a conspicuous absence of hydroids and bryozoans. Bedrock and boulders provide a firm substrate on which ascidians Ciona intestinalis and Ascidia mentula and the bivalve Modiolus modiolus can attach. The crabs Pagurus bernhardus and Carcinus maenas can usually be found here, though Necora puber typically is absent due to the brackish conditions. The starfish Asterias rubens along with the whelk Buccinum undatum can be present. The substratum on which this biotope occurs varies from bedrock to boulders or cobbles on sediment. The kelp band is relatively narrow and shallow (upper 5 m) compared to Slat.Ft, although the grazed coralline encrusted rock extends deeper. This depth limit becomes shallower towards the heads of the sealochs (taken from Connor et al., 2004).

Depth range

0-5 m, 5-10 m

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Physical Pressures

No sensitivity data available

Chemical Pressures

No sensitivity data available

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This review can be cited as:

Stamp, T.E., 2015. [Saccharina latissima] and [Psammechinus miliaris] on variable salinity grazed infralittoral rock. 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: 16/12/2015