EUNIS habitat classification 2017 > M - Marine benthic habitats > MD2 - Offshore circalittoral biogenic habitat > MD22 - Atlantic offshore circalittoral biogenic habitat > MD221 - Cold water coral reefs in the Atlantic offshore circalittoral zone

Cold water coral reefs in the Atlantic offshore circalittoral zone

Description (English)

The coral reef structures in UK waters are found in cold, largely aphotic waters, generally along the shelf edge and in offshore waters down to 2000 m. In the north east Atlantic, Lophelia pertusa is the dominant colonial coral and is the characterising species of the biotope described under this habitat type. Lophelia and its deep-water allies lack the symbiotic algae of their tropical relatives, so can live in the permanent darkness of the deep sea. These corals form colonies and can aggregate into patches and banks which may be described as reefs. These deep-sea corals can support and shelter hundreds of other species, including sponges, polychaete worms, echinoderms (starfish, sea urchins, brittle stars) and bryozoans (sea mats). Some 200-300 species can be found in one of these coral habitats, a number comparable to that found in other important deep-water habitats. Unlike tropical coral reef systems, they are dominated by only a few hard-coral species, and there are far fewer fish species.

Source: EUNIS habitat classification

Quick facts

EUNIS habitat type code MD221
Relation to Resolution 4 habitat type (used for designation of Emerald sites)

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Species mentioned in habitat description

Invertebrates Lophelia pertusa
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Lophelia pertusa Invertebrates

Other classifications

Classification Code Habitat type name Relationship type
EUNIS Habitat Classification 2007 (revised descriptions 2012) A5.63 Circalittoral coral reefs narrower
For relation to plant communities (syntaxa), see Vegetation types


Classification Code Habitat type name Relationship type Comment
EUNIS Habitat Classification 200410 A5.63 Circalittoral coral reefs same
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