Biodiversity & Conservation

Capitella capitata in enriched sublittoral muddy sediments


<i>%Capitella capitata%</i> in enriched sublittoral muddy sediments
Distribution map

SS.SMu.ISaMu.Cap recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

  • EC_Habitats

Text page icon Habitat description

Map icon Distribution of biotope in Britain and Ireland Recorded around the coasts of Shetland and Orkney Isles.
National importance Not available

Text page icon Description of biotope

For a full description of this biotope including characterizing species, distribution, survey information and references visit JNCC

Capitella capitata represents a complex of opportunistic polychaete species especially associated with organically enriched and polluted sediments (Warren, 1977; Pearson & Rosenberg 1978) where members may be superabundant. Although more widely occurring, when these species occur in high numbers and the overall species richness of the habitat is considerably reduced, the sediments are invariably anoxic and often have a very high organic load. Nematodes, Tubificoides spp., Pygospio elegans and Malacoceros fuliginosus may also survive in this habitat, but rarely in anything but comparatively low numbers. This biotope may also occur to some extent in the intertidal. IMS.Cap may become established as a result of anthropogenic activities such as fish farming and sewerage effluent but may also occur with natural enrichment as a result of, for example, coastal bird roosts. Capitella capitata may also occur in high numbers in estuaries (see IMU.CapTub), but this may be a result of competitive refuge rather than organic enrichment (Wolff, 1973). (Information taken from the Marine Biotope Classification for Britain and Ireland, Version 97.06: Connor et al., 1997a, b).

Additional information icon Additional information

None entered

This review can be cited as follows:

Hill, J. & Bilewitch, J. 2009. Capitella capitata in enriched sublittoral muddy sediments. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 30/11/2015]. Available from: <>