Skip to content

Research at St Andrews

Mapping serpulid worm reefs (Polychaeta: Serpulidae) for conservation management

Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle



Colin G. Moore, C. Richard Bates, James M. Mair, Graham R. Saunders, Dan B. Harries, Alastair R. Lyndon

School/Research organisations


1. This study describes investigations into mapping of the biogenic reefs produced by the polychaete worm, Serpula vermicularis, for the purposes of conservation management.

2. Reef distribution throughout Loch Creran, Scotland. was mapped using a diver transect technique and was found to be restricted to a peripheral band, with a mean upper limit of distribution of 2.7 m. The mean lower limit was found to decrease with distance from the mouth of the loch, with a lower limit of 9.3 in the lower basin rising to 6.6 m in the upper basing the likely influence of a corresponding decrease in the upper depth distribution of muds is discussed.

3. Through determination of the mean width of the reef band and coastline length, the areal extent of the reef band was estimated as 108ha, revealing Loch Creran to harbour the most extensive known development of S. vermicularis reef habitat in the world.

4. The utility of sidescan sonar in mapping serpulid reefs was examined in four of the major embayments. Reef material appeared as characteristic patterning on the sonargrams, with the morphology of individual larger reefs being discernible.

5. Sidescan sonar was found to be particularly valuable for the identification and monitoring of threats to the conservation of serpulid reefs. Sidescan sonar surveying was found to facilitate identification of loss of habitat extent resulting from anthropogenic activities such as moorings, aquaculture installations and dredging and can also be used to monitor the potentially damaging activity of otter trawling. Further improvements in the mode of deployment of sidescan sonar are discussed. Copyright (C) 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.



Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)226-236
Number of pages11
JournalAquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2009

    Research areas

  • biogenic reef, Serpula vermicularis, sidescan sonar, anthropogenic impact, Loch Creran, SIDESCAN SONAR, VESTFOLD HILLS, SEDIMENTS, ANTARCTICA, SCOTLAND, CLASSIFICATION, NORWAY, CRERAN, INLET, SIZE

Discover related content
Find related publications, people, projects and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations

Related by author

  1. 150,000-year palaeoclimate record from northern Ethiopia supports early, multiple dispersals of modern humans from Africa

    Lamb, H., Bates, C. R., Bryant, C., Davies, S., Huws, D., Marshall, M. & Roberts, H. 18 Jan 2018 In : Scientific Reports. 8, 7 p., 1077

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  2. The Changing Landscape of Prehistoric Orkney

    Wickham Jones, C., Bates, C. R., Bates, M. & Dawson, S. Sep 2017 The Ecology of Early Settlement in Northern Europe - Conditions for Subsistence and Survival (Volume 1) - Per Persson. Vol. 1

    Research output: ResearchChapter

  3. Northern North Sea and Atlantic Northwest Approaches

    Dawson, S., Bates, C. R., Wickham Jones, C. & Dawson, A. Jun 2017 Submerged Landscapes of the European Continentalo Shelf, Wuaternary Paleoenvironments. Flemming, N. (ed.). Wiley-Blackwell, p. 187-210

    Research output: ResearchChapter

  4. The Quaternary evolution of the Lower Medway: new evidence from beneath the flood plain

    bates, M., Bates, C. R. & Briant, R. 2017 Between the Thames and the Medway: Archaeological excavations on teh Hoo Peninsula and its environs. Dawkes, G. (ed.). spoilheap Publications, p. 9-64

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewChapter (peer-reviewed)

Related by journal

  1. Cetacean rapid assessment: an approach to fill knowledge gaps and target conservation across large data deficient areas

    Braulik, G. T., Kasuga, M., Wittich, A., Kiszka, J. J., MacAulay, J., Gillespie, D., Gordon, J., Said, S. S. & Hammond, P. S. Feb 2018 In : Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. 28, 1, p. 216-230

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  2. Towards the identification of ecological management units: a multidisciplinary approach for the effective management of bottlenose dolphins in the southern Iberian Peninsula

    Giménez, J., Louis, M., Barón, E., Ramírez, F., Verborgh, P., Gauffier, P., Esteban, R., Eljarrat, E., Barceló, D., G. Forero, M. & de Stephanis, R. Feb 2018 In : Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. 28, 1, p. 205-215

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

  3. Genetic population structure of harbour seals in the United Kingdom and neighbouring waters

    Olsen, M. T., Islas, V., Graves, J. A., Onoufriou, A., Vincent, C., Brasseur, S., Frie, A. K. & Hall, A. J. Aug 2017 In : Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. 27, 4, p. 839-845 7 p.

    Research output: Research - peer-reviewArticle

ID: 3451786