Definition of Biogenic Reefs

Biogenic reefs have been defined as “solid, massive structures which are created by accumulations of organisms, usually rising from the seabed, or at least clearly forming a substantial, discrete community or habitat which is very different from the surrounding seabed. The structure of the reef may be composed almost entirely of the reef building organism and its tubes or shells, or it may to some degree be composed of sediments, stones and shells bound together by the organisms”.

The most important biogenic reef forming species in inshore British waters are the honeycomb worm Sabellaria alveolata, ross worm Sabellaria spinulosa, common mussel Mytilus edulis, horse mussel Modiolus modiolus and the serpulid tube worm Serpula vermicularis.

Pictures and descriptions of all biogenic reef forming species can be found on the MarLIN website using the search option.

Definition from Holt, TJ, Rees, EI, Hawkins, SJ and Seed, R. (1998) Biogenic Reefs: An overview of dynamic and sensitivity characteristics for conservation management of marine SACs. Vol. IX UK Marine SACs Project.
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