Red List habitat classification > RLC - Freshwater habitats > RLC2.1b Calcareous spring and spring brook

Calcareous spring and spring brook

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLC2.1b
Threat status
Europe Vulnerable
EU Vulnerable
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)

Summary

Calcareous springs, spring brooks and tufa cascades of karstic rivers differ from base-poor springs (C2.1a) and spring brooks due to their hard water, caused by the high calcium content. Consequently, the pH is clearly alkaline, (pH 6.5-8.5), and the specific conductivity high. This habitat occurs in areas of calcareous bedrock and soils. It is a naturally rare and nowadays declined habitat, particularly in most of the lowland areas in Europe. In montane and alpine areas calcareous springs are more common, and have remained intact to a greater extent. Calcareous springs are usually occurring as small patches. Tufa waterfalls and cascades are characteristics of watercourses in karstic areas of Europe, especially in the Dinaric Alps. The tufa-deposition and later the travertine formation are organogenic processes dependent by the organisms (bacteria, algae, mosses and plants) growing on the substrate. The periphyton produces mucopolysaccharides in which crystals of calcium carbonates (CaCO3) are trapped. This phenomenon is pronounced in many karstic areas and is very sensitive to natural or anthropogenic changes in water chemistry. In northern, geologically young springs tufa formations are not well-developed, but calcareous gyttja (organic mud) is common in sediments. Calcareous springs, spring brooks and cascades are species-rich habitats with abundant cover of mosses. Beside species in common with base-poor springs (type C2.1a) there is a number of calcium-demanding mosses and vascular plants. A high dominance of the moss Cratoneuron commutatum is often typical. Threats for this habitat type are the same as in base-poor springs; in lowland areas many calcareous springs have been destroyed by forestry and clearing of agricultural land.

Indicators of good quality:

  • Natural hydrology and water chemistry in springs and spring brooks,
  • Low anthropogenic influence (drainage, water exploitation, forestry, agriculture, eutrophication etc.) in springs, their surroundings and catchment areas,
  • Presence of plants and animals adapted to spring conditions, including threatened species,
  • High cover of mosses and specialized vascular plants,
  • Absence of invasive alien species.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment


There has been a clear trend of degradation of quality in calcareous springs, spring brooks and tufa cascades in the EU28 during the last 50 years. In quantitative terms the negatively affected part of the area is 50% with a relatively large severity of degradation (58%). This leads to the category Vulnerable (VU) based on trend in quality over the last 50 years (criterion C/D1). The decrease of the area in the recent past is in a range around 23%, qualifying the habitat to the category Near Threatened (NT). The habitat has likely declined up to 70% in area over a longer time period (last centuries), but data exist only from a limited number of countries, leading to a conservative conclusion of Vulnerable. The overall threat category is the same in the EU28+ as most reported occurrences of the habitat are situated in EU28 countries.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable A3, C/D1
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable A3, C/D1

Confidence in the assessment

low
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
  • Pollution
    • Pollution to groundwater (point sources and diffuse sources)
    • Air pollution, air-borne pollutants
  • Natural System modifications
    • Human induced changes in hydraulic conditions
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Biocenotic evolution, succession
  • Climate change
    • Changes in abiotic conditions

Habitat restoration potential

Calcareous spring habitats have some capacity to recover, but in most cases interventions related to restoration of hydrology, control of nutrient loads and other pollution are required, particularly if there is intensive land use in the surrounding areas. Fauna and flora of calcareous spring habitats require specific management and restoration measures. Restrictions in land use (including recreational activities) in surroundings of these habitats are often needed.

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

Maintaining natural hydrology and control of eutrophication and other pollution are crucial for conservation of calcareous springs, spring brooks and tufa cascades. Water protection measures are needed in catchment areas of these groundwater habitats. Calcareous springs are small-scale habitats (often only a few to some tens of square meters), therefore their specialized flora and fauna are sensitive to various changes, including stochastic ones. As the catchments of springs in some lowlands may be very large, conservation measures for restoring or maintaining water quality and quantity may be needed in a large area. Most representative sites should be legally protected, and they should be taken into account in agriculture, forestry and other land use in the area.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to forests and wooded habitats
    • Adapt forest management
  • 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
  • Measures related to hunting, taking and fishing and species management
    • Specific single species or species group management measures

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)
Austria Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Belgium Present 0.9 Decreasing Stable
Bulgaria Present 0.35 Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present Unknown Stable Stable
Cyprus Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Czech Republic Present 0.3 Decreasing Decreasing
Denmark Present 10.6 Decreasing Decreasing
Estonia Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Finland mainland Present 0.16 Decreasing Decreasing
Aland Islands Present 0.16 Decreasing Decreasing
France mainland Present 50 Decreasing Decreasing
Corsica Present 50 Decreasing Decreasing
Germany Present 7 Decreasing Decreasing
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Hungary Present 0.1 Unknown Decreasing
Ireland Present 0.15 Decreasing Stable
Italy mainland Present 43 Decreasing Decreasing
Sardinia Present 43 Decreasing Decreasing
Sicily Present 43 Decreasing Decreasing
Latvia Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Lithuania Present 1 Decreasing Decreasing
Luxembourg Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Netherlands Present 1 Unknown Decreasing
Poland Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Portugal mainland Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Romania Present 2 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovakia Present 0.35 Decreasing Decreasing
Spain mainland Present 18 Decreasing Decreasing
Sweden Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
United Kingdom Present 2 Stable Stable
Northern Island Present 2 Stable Stable
Crete Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
East Aegean Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Slovenia 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)
Albania Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 2 Decreasing Decreasing
Iceland Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Kosovo Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Montenegro Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Norway Mainland Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Serbia Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Switzerland Present 14 Decreasing Decreasing
Svalbard 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 8320300 3202 Unknown Habitat occurs in numerous sites, which are usually very small in size
EU28+ 3244 Unknown Habitat occurs in numerous sites, which are usually very small in size
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.
Ferns Equisetum scirpoides
Flowering Plants Arabis soyeri
Flowering Plants Carex atrofusca
Flowering Plants Cochlearia pyrenaica
Flowering Plants Epilobium davuricum
Flowering Plants Juncus biglumis
Flowering Plants Montia fontana
Flowering Plants Oenanthe divaricata
Flowering Plants Pinguicula vulgaris
Flowering Plants Saxifraga aizoides
Mosses & Liverworts Brachythecium rivulare
Mosses & Liverworts Bryum pseudotriquetrum
Mosses & Liverworts Catoscopium nigritum
Mosses & Liverworts Cinclidium stygium
Mosses & Liverworts Cinclidotus fontinaloides
Mosses & Liverworts Cratoneuron commutatum
Mosses & Liverworts Eucladium verticillatum
Mosses & Liverworts Paludella squarrosa
Mosses & Liverworts Philonotis calcarea
Mosses & Liverworts Scorpidium revolvens
Mosses & Liverworts Tomentypnum nitens
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Equisetum scirpoides Ferns
Arabis soyeri Flowering Plants
Carex atrofusca Flowering Plants
Cochlearia pyrenaica Flowering Plants
Epilobium davuricum Flowering Plants
Juncus biglumis Flowering Plants
Montia fontana Flowering Plants
Oenanthe divaricata Flowering Plants
Pinguicula vulgaris Flowering Plants
Saxifraga aizoides Flowering Plants
Brachythecium rivulare Mosses & Liverworts
Bryum pseudotriquetrum Mosses & Liverworts
Catoscopium nigritum Mosses & Liverworts
Cinclidium stygium Mosses & Liverworts
Cinclidotus fontinaloides Mosses & Liverworts
Cratoneuron commutatum Mosses & Liverworts
Eucladium verticillatum Mosses & Liverworts
Paludella squarrosa Mosses & Liverworts
Philonotis calcarea Mosses & Liverworts
Scorpidium revolvens Mosses & Liverworts
Tomentypnum nitens Mosses & Liverworts

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 C2.1 Springs, spring brooks and geysers narrower
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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