Red List habitat classification > RLB - Coastal habitats > RLB1.1b Mediterranean and Black Sea sand beach

Mediterranean and Black Sea sand beach

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLB1.1b
Threat status
Europe Near Threatened
EU Near Threatened
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)

Summary

The habitat is represented by the lowest level of the supralittoral, just above the mean normal tide limit, where the drift material accumulates and the sand may be enriched with nitrogenous organic matter. It comprises beaches along the Mediterranean Sea, the Black Sea and on the Macaronesian islands. These beaches are sandy, sometimes composed of a mixture of gravel and sand, but pure gravel shores are distinguished as a separate shingle type (habitat B2.1-6b). Typically on these beaches there is very sparse vegetation cover composed mainly of few annuals. The vegetation belongs to the Class Cakiletea maritimae, whose plant communities have a very low cover, sometimes not more than 1%. The species occur on drift lines along the surf line, where the salinity usually is very high. Examples of typical halo-nitrophilous species are Cakile maritima (Cakile maritima subsp. aegyptica is accepted for the Mediterranean and Cakile maritima subsp. euxina is accepted for the Black sea), Salsola kali, Salsola kali subsp. ruthenica and Xanthium strumarium. On sandy beaches rarely visited by people some perennial psammophytes also occur, such as Polygonum maritimum and Euphorbia peplis while Crambe maritima and Polygonum mesembricum could be mentioned for the Black Sea. On Macaronesian islands also Atriplex glauca subsp. ifniensis is characteristic. During storms, the highest parts of the beaches are sporadically inundated by sea water, which sometimes cause drastic changes in the species composition. Sandy beach ridges, which represent the most initial phase of the dune-forming, may also host pioneer species of the Class Ammophiletea consisting mainly of geophytes and hemicryptophytes such as Elymus farctus, Leymus racemosus and Eryngium maritimum. In the Black Sea, the first stages of shifting dunes can be observed at the coastal sand strips at the surf line and up to 30 m inside the beach where the tidal difference is very small. Due to human pressure, beaches may remain without any vegetation even though the habitat could be still suitable for many arthropods. The complete lack of vegetation on the upper beach is a very common phenomenon caused by excessive trampling and, in particular, by the mechanical cleaning of the beach which, together with the litter, removes all living plants. The typical floristic and community structure can be observed mainly in isolated and rarely visited beaches. In good conditions the beaches have vegetation represented mostly by annuals including also some perennials. This habitat is naturally strongly dynamic but when the human impact increases, plant species may disappear completely.

Indicators of good quality:

In good conditions the beaches have vegetation represented mostly by annuals including also some perennials. This habitat is naturally strongly dynamic but when the human impact increases, plant species may disappear completely. Indicators for good quality are:

- presence of characteristic plant species (mainly annuals with few perennials)

- presence of some beach litter (natural beach litter, with few or without anthropogenic litter)

- lack of intense tourist trampling or anthropogenic structures

- lack of alien species, such as Cenchrus incertus.

Characteristic species
For full habitat description, please download the habitat factsheet.

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The overall analysis of data leads to the category Lest Concern (LC) based on relatively small negative trends in quantity and quality over the last 50 years. The habitat has experienced a reduction in abiotic and biotic quality over the last 50 years affecting 31% of the extent of the habitat with a 56% of relative severity, but these values are slightly to low to meet the Near Threatened thresholds.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened -
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened -

Confidence in the assessment

medium
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Mining, extraction of materials and energy production
    • Removal of beach materials
  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
  • Human intrusions and disturbances
    • Outdoor sports and leisure activities, recreational activities
    • Trampling, overuse
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Erosion

Habitat restoration potential

As this habitat is mainly composed by pioneer annuals plant species it could recover rapidly naturally, probably in less than 10 years.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

This habitat is threatened mainly by urbanization and outdoor activities during the summer. Necessary conservation measure are restoration, legal protection of habitat and species and waste management. Special attention should be paid to mechanical cleaning of beaches that not only removes waste (beach litter) but also pioneer plants, particularly important for the stabilization of the sand.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Restoring coastal areas
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites
    • Legal protection of habitats and species
  • Measures related to urban areas, industry, energy and transport
    • Urban and industrial waste management

Distribution

For each habitat a distribution map was produced from a wide variety of sources indicating known and potential occurrences of the habitat in 10x10 km grids within Europe. Occurrences in grid cells were given in two classes: actual distribution from relatively reliable sources (surveys, expert knowledge), and potential distribution based on models or less reliable indicators. Please download the fact sheet to see the map.

Geographic occurrence and trends

EU28 Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Bulgaria Present 6.7 Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present unknown Unknown Unknown
France mainland Present 20 Decreasing Stable
Corsica Present 20 Decreasing Stable
Italy mainland Present 109 Decreasing Stable
Sardinia Present 109 Decreasing Stable
Sicily Present 109 Decreasing Stable
Malta Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Portugal mainland Present 19 Decreasing Decreasing
Portugal Azores Uncertain 19 Decreasing Decreasing
Madeira Uncertain 19 Decreasing Decreasing
Savage Islands Uncertain 19 Decreasing Decreasing
Romania Present 3 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovenia Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Spain mainland Present 90 Decreasing Decreasing
Balearic Islands Present 90 Decreasing Decreasing
Canary Islands Present 90 Decreasing Decreasing
Cyprus Present 1 Stable Stable
Crete Present 9.1 Stable Stable
EU28 + Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Albania Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Montenegro Present unknown Unknown Unknown

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 5073700 1920 170.49
EU28+ 1936 170.49
AOO = the area occupied by a habitat measured in number of 10x10 km grid cells.
EOO = the area (km2) of the envelope around all occurrences of a habitat (calculated by a minimum convex polygon).

Characteristic species

The full list of characteristic species and genus are available above from the Summary. The species available in the EUNIS database are shown here.
Birds Charadrius dubius
Flowering Plants Argusia sibirica
Flowering Plants Cakile maritima
Flowering Plants Cenchrus incertus
Flowering Plants Crambe maritima
Flowering Plants Elymus farctus
Flowering Plants Eryngium maritimum
Flowering Plants Euphorbia peplis
Flowering Plants Leymus racemosus
Flowering Plants Matthiola tricuspidata
Flowering Plants Polygonum maritimum
Flowering Plants Polygonum mesembricum
Flowering Plants Raphanus maritimus
Flowering Plants Salsola kali
Flowering Plants Xanthium strumarium
Invertebrates Cicindela hybrida
Invertebrates Hecamede albicans
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Charadrius dubius Little Ringed Plover Birds
Argusia sibirica Flowering Plants
Cakile maritima Flowering Plants
Cenchrus incertus Flowering Plants
Crambe maritima Flowering Plants
Elymus farctus Flowering Plants
Eryngium maritimum Flowering Plants
Euphorbia peplis Flowering Plants
Leymus racemosus Flowering Plants
Matthiola tricuspidata Flowering Plants
Polygonum maritimum Flowering Plants
Polygonum mesembricum Flowering Plants
Raphanus maritimus Flowering Plants
Salsola kali Flowering Plants
Xanthium strumarium Flowering Plants
Cicindela hybrida Invertebrates
Hecamede albicans Invertebrates

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

This habitat may be equivalent to, or broather than, or narrower than the habitats or ecosystems in the following typologies.
Classification Code Habitat type name Relationship type
EUNIS Habitat Classification 200711 B1.1 Sand beach driftlines overlap
EUNIS Habitat Classification 200711 B1.2 Sand beaches above the driftline overlap
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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