Conservation of the marine environment mainly focuses on threatened elements and more precisely on vulnerable and endangered species like birds and mammals. When dealing with the conservation of marine habitats, the scientific community is mainly interested in hot spots of diversity, like seagrass beds in Europe, or hot spots of endemism, like coral reefs in tropical areas. Nevertheless, using the example of a common and widespread marine invertebrate, the sandmason worm (Lanice conchilega, Polychaeta, Terebellidae), we show that vulnerability and rarity are not the only criteria to take into account in order to select the best natural element for conservation. This species can form dense beds that increase biodiversity, are attractive feeding grounds for birds and fishes, and have a high socioeconomic value. In consequence, they have a high functional value that should be considered as an important conservation stake. Through the example of the Chausey archipelago and the Bay of the Mont Saint-Michel (France), we propose a synthetic interdisciplinary approach to evaluate the conservation needs of these beds. The issue is even more pressing when one considers that these natural elements and many similar ones still do not benefit from any legal protection in Europe despite their high heritage value.
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