Seabed habitats of the southern Irish Sea

Karen Robinson, Andrew Mackie, Charles Lindenbaum, Teresa Darbyshire, Katrien van Landeghem, William Sanderson

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    The southern Irish Sea is a shallow sea (with maximum depths of 160 m) that lies
    between Wales and the Republic of Ireland in the NE Atlantic region, covering an area of ~33,000 km2. The area includes many broadscale geomorphic features including plains, banks, ridges, reefs, valleys, shoals, bioherms, and sediment wave fields. Biological diversity has been recorded across many of these features during studies such as the BIOMÔR [A.S.Y. Mackie, P.G. Oliver, E.I.S. Rees, BIOMÔR Rep. 1 (1995) 263], SWISS [A.S.Y. Mackie, E.I.S. Rees, J.G. Wilson, Marine Biodiversity in Ireland and Adjacent Waters, Ulster Museum, Belfast, 2002], and HABMAP [K.A. Robinson, T. Darbyshire, K. Van Landeghem, C. Lindenbaum, F. McBreen, S. Creavan, et al., BIOMÔR Rep. 5 (2009) 148] projects. Of particular interest is the occurrence of a horse-mussel (Modiolus modiolus) bioherm that forms part of a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) off the Welsh coast. The bioherm is inhabited by rich macroinfaunal and epifaunal assemblages and has a characteristic acoustic signature due to its wave-like structure. The species diversity and affinities of the fauna associated with eight geomorphic features and five broad sediment categories are investigated using multivariate techniques. Gravelly sediments in the plains, valleys, banks, and Modiolus bioherm support the highest species richness. Conversely, sandbanks and shoals have low-diversity assemblages of animals adapted to mobile sands.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationSeafloor Geomorphology as Benthic Habitat
    Subtitle of host publicationGeoHAB Atlas of Seafloor Geomorphic Features and Benthic Habitats
    EditorsPeter T Harris, Elaine K Baker
    Number of pages15
    ISBN (Print)9780123851406
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


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