Description of [Polydora ciliata] and [Corophium volutator] in variable salinity infralittoral firm mud or clay
Variable salinity clay and firm mud characterised by a turf of the polychaete Polydora ciliata along with the amphipod Corophium volutator. Other important taxa include the polychaetes Pygospio elegans, Hediste diversicolor, Streblospio shrubsolii and the oligochaete Tubificoides benedii. P. ciliata also occurs in high densities elsewhere (see unit A4.232) and may be a specific feature of the Humber Estuary in these conditions. This biotope occurs only in very firm mud and clay and possibly submerged relict saltmarsh with a high detrital content. It is characterised, and can be separated from other biotopes, by a combination of the sediment characteristics and the very high density of Polydora ciliata. In some areas, such as the Humber estuary, cyclical behaviour with regard its characteristic taxa has been reported with either P. ciliata or C. volutator increasing in dominance at the expense of the other (Gameson 1982). It is possible that changes in water quality or the sediment regime may be responsible for this.