Description of [Alcyonium digitatum], [Pomatoceros triqueter], algal and bryozoan crust on wave-exposed circalittoral rock
This variant is typically found on the vertical, steep and upper faces of wave-exposed circalittoral bedrock or boulders subject to varying amounts of current. The variant has a very grazed, sparse appearance, dominated only by the presence of Alcyonium digitatum and large expanses of encrusting red alage and bryozoan crusts particularly (Parasmittina trispinosa). The sparse appearance can be attributed to the frequently observed sea urchin Echinus esculentus. The polychaete Pomatoceros triqueter can be locally abundant, and may in some cases cover far more rock surface than A. digitatum, especially on vertical faces. Clumps of robust hydroids such as Abietinaria abietina occur occasionally. Other species present include the echinoderms Asterias rubens, Henricia sanguinolenta, Ophiothrix fragilis, the anemone Urticina felina, Calliostoma zizyphinum and Cancer pagurus. Situation: Shallower than this biotope, dense kelp forest is typically found, containing species such as Laminaria hyperborea and Alaria esculentus. Occasionally, this biotope may be found on rocky outcrops surrounding by coarse sand. With this increased scour, A4.213 may develop at the rock/sand interface. Below this biotope, coarse sediments, muddy gravel and sand are typically recorded.