Red List habitat classification > RLC - Freshwater habitats > RLC1.5 Permanent inland saline and brackish waterbody

Permanent inland saline and brackish waterbody

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLC1.5
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

This habitat type includes non-coastal brackish, saline or hypersaline lakes, ponds or pools. These water bodies may have been directly related to the sea in the past, but are currently separated from any sea influence. They develop in arid and semi-arid climatic conditions, in endorheic drainage basins (which are not connected to other water bodies such as rivers, and therefore the water does not drain to the sea), like in the Pannonian Basin or in smaller basins in the Mediterranean area. In these conditions permanent or temporary lakes become saline due to evaporation that concentrates dissolved salts that either have been introduced by rainwater or have been caught from substrata within the drainage basin. This habitat also includes saline intermittently flowing Mediterranean rivers, running on substrata with high salt content. These watercourses frequently dry out in summer, leaving shallow pools colonized by aquatic halophytes. Salinity and concentrations of chloride may vary from brackish to hypersaline water, depending on rain fall, evaporation rate and the basin substrate. In general brackish waters comply to a minimum salinity of 0.5‰. The water level may vary as well and can have high seasonal fluctuations up to the complete drying out in summer in the most arid and warm areas of Europe. Water is alkaline and highly buffered by bicarbonate (high alkalinity). Phosphorus- and sulphate concentrations can be relatively high (for submerged macrophyte vegetation), which may be related to high sulphur concentration in the sediment. The habitat represents a dynamic environment due to the variations in water quality and quantity as mentioned above. Species composition is largely determined by the presence of brackish water and the variability in salinity.

he vegetation growing in this habitat type is characterized by halophytes adapted to these circumstances. In general, the species composition is poor and the vegetation often consists of monospecific communities. Characteristic halophytes are Najas marina, N. minor, Ruppia maritima, Batrachium (=Ranunculus) baudotii and Zannichellia palustris, Z. pedunculata, Z. obtusifolia. Besides vascular plants, some stonewort are characteristic species, like Tolypella nidifica, Chara canescens, Ch. baltica, Ch. aspera, Ch. intermedia and Ch. vulgaris. Species with a broad habitat range may extend to these brackish waters, like Lemna spp. (L. gibba, L. minor, L. trisulca), Potamogeton spp. (P. crispus, P. natans, P. pectinatus), Callitriche spp. (C. lenisulca, C. stagnalis, C. truncate subsp. fimbriata), Ceratophyllum demersum, Myriophyllum spicatum, Batrachium spp., and Nymphae alba.

The shores of these saline water bodies are characterized by emergent vegetation dominated by macrophytes tolerant to brackish water, such as Phragmites australis, Scirpus tabernaemontani, Bolboschoenus maritimus, Typha laxmannii, Cladium mariscus and Carex melanostachya. However, such shore communities are included in habitat C5.4. Similar communities in coastal dune slacks are included under the habitats B1.8a or B1.8b. The habitat is important for several species of invertebrates and forms a feeding ground for birds. Because salt and ion concentrations are dependent on the evaporation rate, this habitat type is strongly related to climatic conditions. Therefore it is sensitive to climate change. Within Europe this habitat is rare. The largest sites are found in the Pannonian basin, for example the Neusiedler See.

Indicators of good quality:

The following characteristics may be used as indicators of a good quality:

  • Minimum salinity around 0.5 ‰
  • Natural high electrical conductivity of the water
  • No alteration of the natural salinity range
  • Aquatic vegetation and species characteristic of brackish water
  • Absence of overgrowing with shrubs and trees
  • No signs of eutrophication (no dominance of algae such as Cladophora sp., Enteromorpha sp., Vaucheria sp.)
  • No indicator of negative anthropogenic influence (e.g. regulation of the water level, chemical pollution)

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

Quantitative data on trend in area and quality are strongly dominated by information about the largest saline lake in Europe, the Neusiedlersee in Austria. There has been a negative trend in the waterbody of this lake due to drainage and reed bed encroachment, especially in the period 1910-1950. In seven other countries the average trend since 1950 is a decline of about 40/50% of the area, but this figure relates to less than 10% of the total area. Small area declines in this period in Austria lead to an average European value close to the threshold for Near Threatened under criterion A1. The trends in quality over the same period are relatively small. The habitat qualifies however as Near Threatened (NT) due to its historical decline in area (since 1900), for which quantitative figures are not known, but which is estimated to be between 30 and 50%.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened A3
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened A3

Confidence in the assessment

low
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Cultivation
  • Pollution
    • Pollution to surface waters (limnic, terrestrial, marine & brackish)
  • Natural System modifications
    • Human induced changes in hydraulic conditions
  • Climate change
    • Droughts and less precipitations
    • Flooding and rising precipitations

Habitat restoration potential

The habitat can be restored relatively quickly if adequate hydroperiods can be restored while maintaining water conductivity above the 0.5 ‰ threshold. Depending on the situation, this can be done through indirect intervention (eg by restoring the natural functioning of catchment area) or naturally (by preventing artificial water inputs).

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

Most important conservation measures are: (1) avoidance of input of freshwater that modifies water salinity and prevents summer dry periods, and (2) avoidance of embankment, modification of catchment area or water derivation, that would result in absence of flooding (which can be compensated by minimal water input in some cases).

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Restoring/Improving water quality
    • Restoring/Improving the hydrological regime
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites

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)
France mainland Present 1 Decreasing Stable
Netherlands Present 1 Unknown Stable
Austria Present 135 Decreasing Decreasing
Hungary Present 0.1 Decreasing Decreasing
Italy mainland Present 2.6 Decreasing Decreasing
Sardinia Present 2.6 Decreasing Decreasing
Sicily Present 2.6 Decreasing Decreasing
Germany Present 0.5 Unknown Decreasing
Romania Present 1 Unknown Decreasing
Spain mainland Present 4.7 Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Denmark Uncertain unknown Unknown Unknown
Poland Uncertain 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)
Serbia Uncertain 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 2822300 125 146 Estimated area based on 8 countries
EU28+ 128 146 Estimated area based on 8 countries
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.
Algae Ceramium diaphanum
Algae Ceramium rubrum
Algae Chaetomorpha linum
Algae Chara connivens
Algae Chara horrida
Algae Chara tomentosa
Algae Cladophora fracta
Algae Enteromorpha intestinalis
Algae Lamprothamnium papulosum
Fishes Aphanius fasciatus
Flowering Plants Althenia filiformis
Flowering Plants Althenia orientalis
Flowering Plants Batrachium baudotii
Flowering Plants Bolboschoenus maritimus
Flowering Plants Callitriche lenisulca
Flowering Plants Callitriche stagnalis
Flowering Plants Carex melanostachya
Flowering Plants Ceratophyllum demersum
Flowering Plants Cladium mariscus
Flowering Plants Myriophyllum spicatum
Flowering Plants Najas marina
Flowering Plants Najas minor
Flowering Plants Phragmites australis
Flowering Plants Potamogeton pectinatus
Flowering Plants Ranunculus baudotii
Flowering Plants Ranunculus polyphyllus
Flowering Plants Ruppia cirrhosa
Flowering Plants Ruppia drepanensis
Flowering Plants Ruppia maritima
Flowering Plants Scirpus tabernaemontani
Flowering Plants Typha laxmannii
Flowering Plants Zannichellia obtusifolia
Flowering Plants Zannichellia palustris
Flowering Plants Zannichellia pedicellata
Invertebrates Cordylophora caspia
Invertebrates Daphnia magna
Invertebrates Gammarus duebeni
Invertebrates Lestes macrostigma
Invertebrates Palaemonetes varians
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Ceramium diaphanum Algae
Ceramium rubrum Algae
Chaetomorpha linum Algae
Chara connivens Algae
Chara horrida Algae
Chara tomentosa Algae
Cladophora fracta Algae
Enteromorpha intestinalis Algae
Lamprothamnium papulosum Algae
Aphanius fasciatus Mediterranean Toothcarp Fishes
Althenia filiformis Flowering Plants
Althenia orientalis Flowering Plants
Batrachium baudotii Flowering Plants
Bolboschoenus maritimus Flowering Plants
Callitriche lenisulca Flowering Plants
Callitriche stagnalis Flowering Plants
Carex melanostachya Flowering Plants
Ceratophyllum demersum Flowering Plants
Cladium mariscus Flowering Plants
Myriophyllum spicatum Flowering Plants
Najas marina Flowering Plants
Najas minor Flowering Plants
Phragmites australis Flowering Plants
Potamogeton pectinatus Flowering Plants
Ranunculus baudotii Flowering Plants
Ranunculus polyphyllus Flowering Plants
Ruppia cirrhosa Flowering Plants
Ruppia drepanensis Flowering Plants
Ruppia maritima Flowering Plants
Scirpus tabernaemontani Flowering Plants
Typha laxmannii Flowering Plants
Zannichellia obtusifolia Flowering Plants
Zannichellia palustris Flowering Plants
Zannichellia pedicellata Flowering Plants
Cordylophora caspia Invertebrates
Daphnia magna Invertebrates
Gammarus duebeni Invertebrates
Lestes macrostigma Invertebrates
Palaemonetes varians 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 C1.5 Permanent inland saline and brackish lakes, ponds and pools same
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100