Alaria esculenta, Mytilus edulis and coralline crusts on very exposed sublittoral fringe bedrock
|Marine Habitat Classification for Britain and Ireland Version 97.06
|Very exposed sublittoral fringe bedrock characterised by the kelp Alaria esculenta and dense patches of small Mytilus edulis, both of which grow over a dense cover of encrusting coralline algae. Foliose red algae may also be present, but the species composition and their abundance varies between sites. Species such as Corallina officinalis, Mastocarpus stellatus and Plocamium cartilagineum occur widely. Limpets and barnacles are often common. Patches of anemones (such as Sagartia elegans) and the hydroid Tubularia indivisa also occur in wave-surged areas. Laminaria digitata is usually absent, although stunted plants may be present at a few sites (typically greater than frequent). On very exposed shores this biotope is usually found beneath the Mytilus edulis-barnacle zone (ELR.MytB) and above the sublittoral Laminaria hyperborea forest (EIR.LhypR or EIR.LhypFa). In extremely exposed areas the Alaria zone may extend as deep at 15 m, where it generally has less Mytilus and greater densities of Tubularia (e.g. Barra and shallow areas of Rockall). This biotope is, however, distinguished from the deep Alaria forest (EIR.AlaAnSC) found on Rockall by its lack of short turf-forming hydroids. On less exposed shores an Alaria-dominated zone may, however, lie immediately above a narrow Laminaria digitata zone (MIR.Ldig). This biotope can also occur on exposed steep or vertical shores, where wave-crash restricts the growth of Laminaria digitata.
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