Red List habitat classification > RLB - Coastal habitats > RLB1.3a Atlantic and Baltic shifting coastal dune

Atlantic and Baltic shifting coastal dune

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLB1.3a
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

Primary dunes and white dunes along the coasts of the Atlantic Ocean, including the North Sea, and the Baltic Sea. Primary dunes are found on sandy beaches along sedimentary coasts, where plenty of sand is available. They are formed by Elytrigia farctus, which is able to catch blowing sand and built up small dunes, in some cases mixed with drift line species (Cakile maritima, Salsola kali). In the northern Baltic Sea embryonic dunes are formed by Leymus arenarius and occasionally also by Honckenya peploides or Agrostis stolonifera. Such embryonic dunes often last only a year and disappear after severe storms. In sheltered conditions, for examples along expanding coasts, they may however grow higher, outside the influence of salt ground water, until a level where Ammophila arenaria is able to establish and to provide more stability to the dunes. Marram grass can develop a very deep root system with which the plant grows higher and higher when overblown by sand. In this way dunes grow up to high ridges, forming the so-called white dunes (named after the soil color which is related to the absence of organic, “grey” material). White dunes have a very open vegetation cover, an alternating relief and form (still) a very dynamic environment (due to wind and salt spray) where few species can survive. In good conditions there is a clear zonation of primary and white dunes, while on very broad, expanding shores even large areas with a mixture of embryonic dunes, drift-line communities and white dunes may develop.

Leymus arenarius and x Calamagrostis baltica can have a similar role as Ammophila in relatively cold regions, although the white dunes (in fact “black” on volcanic Iceland) don’t grow that high in cold regions. A constant species in all Atlantic and Baltic white dunes is Festuca arenaria. Other associated species are Sonchus arvensis var. maritimus, Oenanthe oakesiana, Honckenya peploides, in boreal regions Lathyrus japonicus and in relatively warm regions Calystegia soldanella, Eryngium maritimum, Euphorbia paralias, Polygonum maritimum, and several species more typical for Mediterranean white dunes (see habitat B1.3b). Amongst the more restricted species are Linaria loeselii (Baltics), Pancratium maritimum, Linaria thymifolia and Hieracium eriophorum (Southwestern France) and Galium arenarium and Galium neglectum (Bay of Biscaye and Channel islands).

Besides the relatively low diversity of vascular plants some remarkable fungi grow here, several of them being restricted to coastal dunes. Examples are Agaricus devoniensis, Cyathus stercoreus, Hohenbuehelia culmicola, Melanoleuca cinereifolia, Peziza ammophila, Phallus hadriani, Psathyrella ammophila and Stropharia halophila.

The fauna of this extreme habitat contains several specialized species of beetle.

Indicators of good quality:

·      Natural zonation from embryonic dunes to white dunes, or mosaic of embryonic and white dunes

·      Irregular vegetation structure, with open sand

·      Irregular, alternating relief (with high ridges and depressions)

·      Presence of characteristic fungi

·      No disturbance by man

·      Absence of erosion patterns

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

This habitat reaches the qualification of Near Threatened (NT) because of a strong reduction in quality over the last 50 years (criterion C/D1). For this criterion maximum values reported even reach the Vulnerable category, and it is likely that in the southern parts of the range this category is more applicable. Also the longer historical decrease in area (criterion A3) is relatively high, resulting in the category Near Threatened, but in this case the uncertainty range is closer to the Least Concern category.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened A3, C/D1
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened A3, C/D1

Confidence in the assessment

medium
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
  • Human intrusions and disturbances
    • Trampling, overuse
  • Invasive, other problematic species and genes
    • Invasive non-native species
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Erosion
  • Climate change
    • Sea-level changes

Habitat restoration potential

Naturally this habitat recovers after a few decades, but it depends very much on the proximity of a seeds source. If such is available, natural regeneration is a good option. If the regeneration is on a very disturbed site, the intervention by planting Ammophila and/or Elymus is recommended, always using regionally collected material to prevent genetic pollution

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 in the context of all the coastal dunes systems particularly in southern Europe: pressure for human use as recreational areas plus pressure for construction of various elements. A general legislation to prevent construction in a strip of the shoreline should be common to the whole EU, and determining the progressive demolition of any building or built area in this habitat after a period. Other relevant measures are: strict conservation of remainig areas, surveillance and control of the trampling and overuse in visited areas, monitoring to control alien species invasion and programs to remove its populations are required, and cancellation of further artificial pine plantations and progressive logging of the existing trees.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Restoring coastal areas
  • 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)
Belgium Present 5.6 Stable Decreasing
Ireland Present 5.3 Stable Stable
Portugal Azores Present 7 Decreasing Decreasing
Spain mainland Present 2.4 Decreasing Decreasing
Denmark Present 21 Unknown Unknown
Estonia Present 4 Decreasing Stable
Finland mainland Present 1.7 Stable Stable
Lithuania Present 8 Decreasing Stable
Netherlands Present 26 Stable Stable
Poland Present 25 Decreasing Decreasing
Sweden Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
United Kingdom Present 25 Unknown Decreasing
Northern Island Present 25 Unknown Decreasing
Aland Islands Present 1.7 Stable Stable
Portugal mainland Present 7 Decreasing Decreasing
France mainland Present 190 Decreasing Decreasing
Latvia Present 7.7 Decreasing Decreasing
Germany Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
EU28 + Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Iceland Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Kaliningrad Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Norway Mainland Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Isle of Man Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Faroe Islands Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Guernsey Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Jersey 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 4314750 2472 339
EU28+ 2493 339
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.
Flowering Plants Agrostis stolonifera
Flowering Plants Ammophila arenaria
Flowering Plants Astragalus baionensis
Flowering Plants Cakile maritima
Flowering Plants Calystegia soldanella
Flowering Plants Elymus farctus
Flowering Plants Eryngium maritimum
Flowering Plants Euphorbia paralias
Flowering Plants Festuca arenaria
Flowering Plants Galium arenarium
Flowering Plants Galium maritimum
Flowering Plants Galium neglectum
Flowering Plants Hieracium eriophorum
Flowering Plants Lathyrus japonicus
Flowering Plants Leymus arenarius
Flowering Plants Linaria loeselii
Flowering Plants Linaria thymifolia
Flowering Plants Pancratium maritimum
Flowering Plants Polygonum maritimum
Flowering Plants Salsola kali
Flowering Plants Solidago virgaurea
Flowering Plants Sonchus arvensis
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Agrostis stolonifera Flowering Plants
Ammophila arenaria Flowering Plants
Astragalus baionensis Flowering Plants
Cakile maritima Flowering Plants
Calystegia soldanella Flowering Plants
Elymus farctus Flowering Plants
Eryngium maritimum Flowering Plants
Euphorbia paralias Flowering Plants
Festuca arenaria Flowering Plants
Galium arenarium Flowering Plants
Galium maritimum Flowering Plants
Galium neglectum Flowering Plants
Hieracium eriophorum Flowering Plants
Lathyrus japonicus Flowering Plants
Leymus arenarius Flowering Plants
Linaria loeselii Flowering Plants
Linaria thymifolia Flowering Plants
Pancratium maritimum Flowering Plants
Polygonum maritimum Flowering Plants
Salsola kali Flowering Plants
Solidago virgaurea Flowering Plants
Sonchus arvensis Flowering Plants

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 B1.3 Shifting coastal dunes narrower
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