BIOTIC Species Information for Macoma balthica
Researched byLizzie Tyler Data supplied byUniversity of Sheffield
Refereed byThis information is not refereed.
Distribution and Habitat
Distribution in Britain & IrelandCommon in estuarine environments around the British Isles, with the exception of the south coast.
Global distributionMacoma balthica has an extensive geographic range that reaches from temperate to arctic coastal waters in both the North Atlantic and North Pacific oceans.
Biogeographic rangeNot researched Depth range
MigratoryNon-migratory / Resident   
Distribution Additional InformationStudies have indicated that eastern and western North Atlantic populations of Macoma balthica are morphologically and genetically different from one another, and that they may have diverged as sibling species (Meehan & Carlton, 1988).
Depth preferences
Macoma balthica occurs in a wide depth range between the mid shore and 190m but is most abundant at moderate depths on muddy and sandy bottoms (Olafsson, 1986). However, in British waters Macoma balthica is mainly an intertidal species.
Local distribution
Macoma balthica is a resident species but because of near-surface habitat preference, populations may be subject to tidal re-location and scouring. Also observations of propulsion stimulus to scallops may assist in local relocation (Langston, W.J., pers. comm.)

Substratum preferencesMud
Muddy sand
Sandy mud
Physiographic preferencesRia / Voe
Enclosed coast / Embayment
Biological zoneUpper Eulittoral
Mid Eulittoral
Lower Eulittoral
Wave exposureSheltered
Very Sheltered
Extremely Sheltered
Tidal stream strength/Water flowModerately Strong (1-3 kn)
Weak (<1 kn)
SalinityVariable (18-40 psu)
Reduced (18-30 psu)
Low (<18 psu)
Habitat Preferences Additional Information
Distribution References Hayward et al., 1996, Hayward & Ryland, 1995b, Fish & Fish, 1996, Clay, 1967(b), Meehan & Carlton, 1988, Olafsson, 1986, Ratcliffe et al., 1981, Bonsdorff et al., 1995, Tebble, 1976, Picton & Costello, 1998, JNCC, 1999, Bruce et al., 1963, Hayward & Ryland, 1990, Julie Bremner, unpub data,
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