Description of [Echinocardium cordatum] and [Ensis] spp. in lower shore and shallow sublittoral slightly muddy fine sands
Sheltered lower shore and shallow sublittoral sediments of sand or muddy fine sand in fully marine conditions, support populations of the urchin Echinocardium cordatum and the razor shell Ensis siliqua or Ensis ensis. Other notable taxa within this biotope include occasional Lanice conchilega, Pagurus and Liocarcinus spp. and Asterias rubens. This biotope has primarily been recorded by epifaunal dive, video or trawl surveys where the presence of relatively conspicuous taxa such as E. cordatum and Ensis spp. have been recorded as characteristic of the community. However, these species, particularly E. cordatum have a wide distribution and are not necessarily the best choice for a characteristic taxa (Thorson, 1957). Furthermore, detailed quantitative infaunal data for this biotope is often rather scarce, possibly as a result of survey method as remote grab sampling is likely to under-estimate deep-burrowing species such as Ensis sp. (Warwick & Davis 1977). Consequently, it may be better to treat this biotope as an epibiotic overlay which is likely to overlap a number of other biotopes such as units A5.242, A5.233 and A5.261 with infaunal components of these biotopes occurring within A5.241. The precise nature of this infaunal community will be related to the nature of the substratum, in particular the quantity of silt/clay present. Infaunal species may include the polychaetes Spiophanes bombyx, Magelona mirabilis, Nephtys cirrosa and Chaetozone setosa and the amphipod Bathyporeia spp. This biotope is currently broadly defined and needs further consideration as to whether it should be placed at biotope or biotope complex level. A5.243 is another biotope based primarily on epibiotic data. It is likely that this biotope and A5.241 form a wider epibiotic sand /muddy sand community with A5.241 biased towards sandier areas and A5.243 towards slightly muddier areas.