Red List habitat classification > RLC - Freshwater habitats > RLC1.6a Temperate temporary waterbody

Temperate temporary waterbody

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLC1.6a
Threat status
Europe Least Concern
EU Least Concern
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)


This habitat type includes temporary freshwaters in the European temperate region. The associated plant communities seem not to be significant in the definition of the habitat which is mainly determined by hydrogeological and geomorphological conditions rather than by the biological component. These water bodies are characterized by large fluctuations of water level, which is related to the level of the underlying water table and to the amount of precipitation. In parts of the year, water is absent from these habitats and the plant and animal communities are mainly dependent by the seasonal hydrological regime, especially by the speed of drying out. The habitat can include a wide range of vegetation types, from wetland ones characterizing the areas where the water remains longer, to terrestrial ones in those areas where the water remains for a shorter time. The habitat includes the following distinct sub-types:

Turloughs have been described first as a habitat unique to Ireland but with a location also in Scotland and maybe Wales. However considering that this habitat is mainly determined by hydrological and geomorphological conditions it was recently recognized also in the Slovenian karst and other karstic areas of the temperate Europe and Mediterranean calcareous mountains. Turloughs are depressions of variable size developing on limestone, supporting vegetation and soils indicative of the prevalence of flooded conditions over at least part of the year. Flooding occurs annually in autumn mainly through springs and fissures in the underlying limestone though direct rainfall can have a secondary effect. Some turloughs in Ireland are affected by the tidal movements of coastal waters. In spring or summer draining often occurs through the same fissures or swallow-holes. Some turloughs can flood at any time within a few hours after heavy rainfall and subsequently may dry up again a few days later. This makes this habitat rather dynamic. The vegetation includes a range of vegetation alliances depending on flooding patterns, geomorphology, trophic status, grazing and climatic conditions. Mostly turloughs are grass- or sedge-dominated basins, which sometimes have a marsh or occasionally a permanent pond in the most depressed point. In the Burren, the high-water mark is often shown by Potentilla fruticosa. In Ireland the presence of the black moss Cinclidotus fontinaloides is a regular indicator of the location of a turlough. Moreover the habitat can includes rare wetland species such as the fen violet Viola persicifolia, the annual northern yellowcress Rorippa islandica and Callitriche palustris. In the Slovenian and Southern European karst systems, due to the different climatic and hydrological regimes, turloughs host mainly wet meadows. In these communities species such as Lotus corniculatus, Centaurea jacea, Galium verum, Ranunculus acris, R. repens, Agrostis stolonifera, Achillea millefolium are common. Turlough wetland communities can be classified into three main phytosociological classes: the Scheuzerio palustris-Caricetea fuscae of small-sedge communities, the Molinio-Arrhenatheretea including wet meadows and disturbed habitat communities, and the Littorelletea uniflorae lakeshore communities found on the margins of more permanent water bodies within turloughs. Caricion davallianae and Potentillion anserinae are the phytosociological alliances listed in the Habitats Directive as characteristic of this habitat. Aquatic and marsh communities often occur in the lower parts of turlough basins.

Lakes of gypsum karst is a very rare habitat, that includes small lakes that have developed by springs or spring complexes of active gypsum karst areas. The underlying rock might be gypsum or limestone, characterized by calcium sulphate and carbonate, respectively. Karst sinkholes might have a different shape and depth. They may appear as chains of funnel-shaped sinkholes and small hollows. They usually accumulate water but also fall dry periodically. The lakes are characterized by pronounced fluctuations of water level as well as high concentrations of calcium sulphate. Since lakes of gypsum karst significantly differ in shape, size, age and origin, their vegetation can be quite diverse. Older sinkholes can develop in lakes or bogs or into a terrestrial wet meadows vegetation. Younger ones can have a diverse vegetation including submerged and free-floating aquatic macrophytes. In general the vegetation is well adapted to fluctuating water levels (including semi-permanent conditions) and relatively high sulphate levels. Therefore, a number of alliances of the Littorelletea might be found in these habitats: Subularion aquaticae, Deschampsion litoralis, Lobelion dortmannae, Littorellion uniflorae, Hyperico elodis-Sparganion.

Indicators of good quality:

  • The periodical alternation of wet-and-dry regimes
  • The absence of heavy anthropogenic activities that can alter the hydrogeological system (e.g. water capitation and drainage)
  • The absence of communities and species indicating an excessive nitrification or disturbance such as ruderal and exotic species

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

This habitat qualifies for Least Concern (LC) according to the wide distribution and small declines in quality and quantity. However trends in area are very close to the Near Threatened thresholds. Besides, the data are incomplete, especially for some Balkan countries which may contain large areas. The results of the assessment could change a lot, either positively or negatively, if more data from Balkan countries were available.
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Cultivation
    • Mowing / Cutting of grassland
    • Abandonment / Lack of  mowing
    • Grazing
    • Intensive grazing
    • Abandonment of pastoral systems, lack of grazing
    • Livestock farming and animal breeding (without grazing)
    • Annual and perennial non-timber crops
    • Use of biocides, hormones and chemicals
    • Fertilisation
  • Mining, extraction of materials and energy production
    • Mining and quarrying
    • Renewable abiotic energy use
    • Wind energy production
  • Pollution
    • Pollution to groundwater (point sources and diffuse sources)
    • Soil pollution and solid waste (excluding discharges)
  • Natural System modifications
    • Human induced changes in hydraulic conditions
    • Landfill, land reclamation and drying out, general
    • Canalisation & water deviation
    • Flooding modifications
    • Lack of flooding
    • Modification of hydrographic functioning, general
    • Water abstractions from groundwater
    • Other ecosystem modifications
    • Anthropogenic reduction of habitat connectivity
  • Climate change
    • Changes in abiotic conditions
    • Flooding and rising precipitations
    • Changes in biotic conditions
    • Habitat shifting and alteration
    • Desynchronisation of processes
    • Decline or extinction of species

Habitat restoration potential

The capacity of this habitat to naturally recover is different according to the kind of damage that the habitat has undergone. If the damage concerned the groundwater level it may be possible to recover the habitat only through intervention, if at all. If the damage concerned only the land surface such as in the case of nitrification, pollution of soil or destruction of the natural vegetation due farming activities, the habitat can probably partially or totally recover through intervention (seed dispersal, removal of pollutants) in approximately a decade. Without intervention the habitat could require more years to recover. Although the functionality of the habitat can be easily recovered, the natural recovering of species composition could be difficult if the seed bank is destroyed.

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 especially by anthropogenic activities that could alter the physical and chemical conditions, or even cause the progressive erosion of the habitat. Therefore measures for farming activities such as the regulation of the minimum distance of crops from the flood areas, the use of biocides, fertilizers and irrigation should be introduced in every country. Moreover measures should be also taken regarding the catchment of groundwater in the surrounding areas. In many cases, large areas in which this habitat occurs are already included in protected areas, however probably most of the smallest systems are not protected in any way in all of the countries. The inclusion of this habitat in protected areas is surely useful to limit the reduction of the habitat due to anthropogenic use of the land. Grazing and mowing may be positive for the maintenance of some vegetation types and a high biodiversity and for limiting the vegetation succession processes. However these activities should be properly regulated preventing overgrazing, nitrification and the reduction of the natural dispersal of seeds. Considering that this habitat develops exclusively on karst and gypsum geological formations, measures related to mining and quarrying may also be needed in some countries both to avoid direct and indirect erosion and damage of the habitat.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
    • Maintaining grasslands and other open habitats
    • Adapting crop production
  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Restoring/Improving water quality
    • Restoring/Improving the hydrological regime
    • Managing water abstraction
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites
    • Legal protection of habitats and species
    • Manage landscape features
  • Measures related to urban areas, industry, energy and transport
    • Specific management of traffic and energy transport systems


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 Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
France mainland Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Slovakia Present 0.01 Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present 19 Unknown Unknown
Ireland Present 69 Stable Stable
Slovenia Present 33 Stable Stable
United Kingdom Present 0.07 Decreasing Stable
Northern Island Present 0.07 Decreasing Stable
Germany Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Italy mainland Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Romania Present 4 Stable Stable
Poland Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Spain mainland Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Austria Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Estonia Present 4.2 Decreasing Decreasing
Finland mainland Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Greece (mainland and other islands) Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Latvia Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Lithuania Present 0.15 Decreasing Stable
Portugal mainland Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Sweden 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)
Albania Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 260 Decreasing Decreasing
Kosovo Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Montenegro Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Serbia Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Kaliningrad 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 2071600 196 129 Only 8 countries provided the actual total area of the habitat.
EU28+ 240 389 Only Bosnia and Herzegovina provided the actual area. This country reported a very large area, which seems to be reliable considering the extension of calcareous massifs in the Balkans.
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

Not available

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

Not available
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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