EUNIS habitat classification 2017 > M - Marine benthic habitats > MB1 - Infralittoral rock > MB12 - Atlantic infralittoral rock > MB121 - Kelp and seaweed communities on Atlantic infralittoral rock > MB1211 - Alaria esculenta on exposed Atlantic sublittoral fringe bedrock > MB12111 - Alaria esculenta, Mytilus edulis and coralline crusts on very exposed Atlantic sublittoral fringe bedrock

Alaria esculenta, Mytilus edulis and coralline crusts on very exposed Atlantic sublittoral fringe bedrock

Quick facts

EUNIS habitat type code MB12111
Relation to Resolution 4 habitat type (used for designation of Emerald sites)

Description (English)

Very exposed sublittoral fringe bedrock characterised by the kelp Alaria esculenta and dense patches of small individuals of the mussel Mytilus edulis, both of which grow over a dense cover of encrusting coralline algae. Foliose red seaweeds may also be present, but the species composition and their abundance vary between sites. Species such as Corallina officinalis occur widely. The kelp Laminaria digitata is usually absent, although stunted plants may be present at a few sites. The limpet Patella vulgata and the barnacle Semibalanus balanoides are often common. Patches of anthozoans and the hydroid Tubularia spp. occur in more wave-surged areas. In extremely exposed areas the A. esculenta zone can extend as deep as 15 m, where it has less S. balanoides, M. edulis and greater densities of Tubularia spp. (e.g. Barra and shallow areas of Rockall, Scotland).
Situation: This biotope is most commonly found beneath the mussel-barnacle zone (unit MA1-221) of very exposed shores and above the upper infralittoral Laminaria hyperborea forest ( MB1-213 or MB1-213). It is at the extremely wave-surged sites, such as St Kilda, that MB1-213 occurs below MB1-2111. Occasionally, the A. esculenta zone occurs below a narrow but dense band of red seaweeds: typically Mastocarpus stellatus and/or Palmaria palmata and Corallina officinalis (unit MA1-235) or very occasionally Himanthalia elongata (MA1-233). A dense turf of C. officinalis (MA1-232) occurs above the A. esculenta zone at a few extremely exposed sites, particularly on steep or vertical rock. On less exposed shores, however, an A. esculenta dominated zone may lie immediately above a narrow L. digitata zone (MB1-2112). Unit MB1-2111 can also occur on less exposed steep or vertical shores, where wave-surge restricts the growth of L. digitata which generally dominates the sublittoral fringe rock on moderately exposed shores. On seasonally unstable boulders or sites subject to disturbance by strong wave-action, a mixed kelp canopy that characterises MB1-232 may occur beneath the MB1-2111 zone instead of the ubiquitous L. hyperborea forest; this is most common on the Shetland isles.
Temporal variation: At very exposed sites, A. esculenta may have been so wave-battered during the season as to be reduced to a tattered midrib with no blades, altering the general appearance of the biotope. Where MB1-2111 occurs on boulders and/or sites subject to disturbance during severe weather conditions, rock that is scoured clean may then be rapidly colonised by fast-growing green algae such as Enteromorpha spp. An assemblage of rapidly colonising species that characterise the disturbed MB1-231 biotope may also develop in the sublittoral fringe. A species that can fluctuate in huge numbers at these sites is the starfish Asterias rubens, sometimes forming dense aggregations across the narrow A. esculenta band whilst feeding on the mussels.

Source: EUNIS habitat classification

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Species mentioned in habitat description

Algae Alaria esculenta
Algae Corallina officinalis
Algae Himanthalia elongata
Algae Laminaria digitata
Algae Laminaria hyperborea
Algae Mastocarpus stellatus
Algae Palmaria palmata
Invertebrates Asterias rubens
Invertebrates Mytilus edulis
Invertebrates Patella vulgata
Invertebrates Semibalanus balanoides
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Alaria esculenta Algae
Corallina officinalis Algae
Himanthalia elongata Algae
Laminaria digitata Algae
Laminaria hyperborea Algae
Mastocarpus stellatus Algae
Palmaria palmata Algae
Asterias rubens Invertebrates
Mytilus edulis Invertebrates
Patella vulgata Invertebrates
Semibalanus balanoides Invertebrates

Other classifications

Classification Code Habitat type name Relationship type
EUNIS Habitat Classification 2007 (revised descriptions 2012) A3.1111 Alaria esculenta, Mytilus edulis and coralline crusts on very exposed sublittoral fringe bedrock same
For relation to plant communities (syntaxa), see Vegetation types

History

Classification Code Habitat type name Relationship type Comment
EUNIS Habitat Classification 200410 A3.1111 Alaria esculenta, Mytilus edulis and coralline crusts on very exposed sublittoral fringe bedrock same
EUNIS Habitat Classification 200308 A3.1111 Alaria esculenta, Mytilus edulis and coralline crusts on very exposed sublittoral fringe bedrock same
EUNIS Habitat Classification 200202 A3.1111 Alaria esculenta, Mytilus edulis and coralline crusts on very exposed sublittoral fringe bedrock same
EUNIS Habitat Classification 199910 A3.1111 Alaria esculenta, Mytilus edulis and coralline crusts on very exposed sublittoral fringe bedrock same
MNCR BioMar 97.06 (Britain & Ireland) EIR.KFaR.Ala.Myt Alaria esculenta, Mytilus edulis and coralline crusts on very exposed sublittoral fringe bedrock same
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