English name: Machair

Quick facts

EUNIS habitat type code B1.9
Bern Convention Resolution 4 habitat type (used for designation of Emerald sites)
Relation to Annex I habitat types (EU Habitats Directive)

Description (English)

Short-turf grasslands formed on dry and seasonally waterlogged, relatively flat and low-lying sand plains, where windblown calcareous sand overlies peat or impermeable bedrock. Machair grasslands are machair in the strict sense, and form part of the machair complex (X27), characteristic of the Outer Hebrides and western Ireland, with dunes (B1.3, B1.4), shallow lochs (C1) and land cultivated on a strip rotation (I1). They support a flower-rich, and correspondingly insect-rich, dune grassland studded with shallow lochs and cultivated on a strip rotation. The grassland is dominated by Poa pratensis and Festuca rubra, accompanied by Thalictrum minus ssp. arenarium, Thymus praecox ssp. arcticus (Thymus drucei), Bellis perennis, Prunella vulgaris, Erodium cicutarium, Trifolium spp., Euphrasia spp. and many orchids, among which Dactylorhiza fuchsii ssp. hebridensis, Dactylorhiza purpurella, Gymnadenia conopsea, Coeloglossum viride, Platanthera chlorantha and Orchis mascula are the most prominent. This grassland harbours a plant community of very restricted distribution comprising vulnerable species; Cochlearia scotica, Euphrasia marshallii and Dactylorhiza fuchsii ssp. hebridensis are endemic. As a whole, machair is an essential habitat for breeding waders such as Haematopus ostralegus, Vanellus vanellus, Charadrius hiaticula, Calidris alpina, Tringa totanus and Gallinago gallinago; it supports the healthiest western European population of the threatened corncrake Crex crex.

EUNIS habitat classification
Interpretation Manual of the habitats targeted by Resolution No. 4

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Name Definition Other names Reference
Armerion elongatae Pötsch 1962 Closed meso-xerophytic swards on slightly acidic to slightly alkaline sandy soils in lowlands of subcontinental Europe Armerion elongatae Krausch 1962; Plantagini lanceolatae-Festucion brevipilae Passarge 1964 corr. Kratzert et Dengler 1999; Plantagini lanceolatae-Festucion ovinae Passarge 1964; Vicio lathyroidis-Potentillion argenteae Brzeg in Brzeg et Wojterska 1996; Armerion elongatae Krausch 1959; Plantagini-Festucion trachyphyllae Passarge 1964 nom. corr. propos. Schaminee et al, 2012
Thero-Airion Tx. ex Oberd. 1957 Pioneer vegetation on acidic shallow soils of winter-mild atlantic and sub-boreal regions of Europe and Madeira Airion caryophylleo-praecocis Rivas-Mart. 1978; Thero-Airion Tx. 1951; Thero-Trifolion Doing 1974; Tuberario guttatae-Airion praecocis de Foucault 1999; Tuberario guttatae-Airion praecocis de Foucault 2001 Schaminee et al, 2012
Violion caninae Schwickerath 1944 Meso-subxerophilous oligotrophic pastures in planare to submontane belts of Western and Central Europe Galio saxatilis-Festucion vivipareae de Foucault 1994; Galio saxatilis-Festucion filiformis de Foucault 1994; Nardo-Galion saxatilis Preising 1949; Nardo-Galion saxatilis Preising 1950; Potentillo erectae-Holcion mollis Passarge 1979; Violo caninae-Nardion (Schwickerath 1944) Ellenberg 1978; Agrostion curtisii de Foucault 1986; Avenulo marginatae sulcatae-Nardion Stieperaere 1990; Avenulo marginatae sulcatae-Nardion Stieperaere in de Foucault 1994; Avenulo marginatae sulcatae-Nardion Stieperaere in de Foucault 2012; Danthonio decumbentis-Serapiadion linguae de Foucault 1994; Nardo-Agrostion caninae Cortini Pedrotti et al. 1973; Violo-Nardion Oberd. 1949 Schaminee et al, 2012
Koelerion arenariae Tx. 1937 corr. Gutermann et Mucina 1993 Sandy grasslands on base-rich stabilised grey dunes of North Sea coasts from northern France to Germany Galio-Koelerion (Tx. 1937) Westhoff et Den Held 1969; Koelerion albescentis Tx. 1937; Koelerion arenariae Tx. 1937 corr. Rivas-Mart. et al. 2002; Phleo arenarii-Cerastion diffusi de Foucault 1999; Phleo-Koelerion Doing 1974; Tortulo-Koelerion (Tx. 1937) Weeda, Doing et Schaminée in Schaminée et al. 1996; Phleo arenarii-Cerastion diffusi de Foucault 2001 Schaminee et al, 2012
Ammophilion Br.-Bl. 1921 Vegetation of warm-temperate mediterranean tall-grass swards on embryonic coastal sand dunes Agropyrion juncei Pignatti 1953; Ammophilion Br.-Bl. 1933; Ammophilion littori-arenariae Br.-Bl. 1921; Ammophilion arundinaceae Br.-Bl. 1921 corr. Géhu et al. in Rivas-Mart. et al. 1990; Ammophilion australis Br.-Bl. 1921 corr. Géhu 1998; Euphorbio-Ammophilion arenariae Géhu et Géhu-Franck 1969; Euphorbio-Festucion dumetori Géhu 1975; Sporobolion arenarii (Géhu et Géhu-Franck ex Géhu et Biondi 1994) Rivas-Mart. et al. 2001; Sporobolion arenarii (Géhu et Géhu-Franck ex Géhu et Biondi 1994) Rivas-Mart. et al. 2002; Agropyrion mediterraneum Géhu et Géhu-Franck 1969; Zygophyllion albi Géhu et al. 1990; Zygophyllion albi Géhu et al. 1991 Schaminee et al, 2012

Species mentioned in habitat description

Other classifications

Classification Code Habitat type name Relationship type
Palaearctic Habitat Classification 200112 1A.1 Machair same
CORINE Land Cover 2.3.1. Pastures n/a
Phase 1 habitat classification (UK) 1993 H65 Sand-dune: dune grassland wider
Biodiversity Action Plan Priority Habitats (UK) 29 Machair same
For relation to plant communities (syntaxa), see Vegetation types
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100