Red List habitat classification > RLC - Freshwater habitats > RLC5.2 Tall-sedge bed

Tall-sedge bed

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLC5.2
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

Communities generally dominated by tall sedges typically of the order Magnocaricetalia. Cladium mariscus communities are only partly included here. When they develop in calcareous fens they are part of the habitat type D4.1c. The optimal belt for tall sedge vegetation is the geolittoral zone, the area above the mean water level, but subjected to periodical flooding and water saturated for most of the year. Tall sedge communities are usually species-poor, often dominated by one species and accompanied by few characteristic species. Some of the above mentioned dominant species have clear preferences related to climate, substrate, hydrology and trophic level of the habitat.  The primary productivity of these communities is high, but clearly lower than for non-sedges tall helophytes included in the habitat C5.1a.

Tall sedge communities occur also along running waters or in wet and moist depressions of alluvial and karst plains. In the hydro-series they are later replaced by drier wet meadows and riparian shrub vegetation. They grow as fringe vegetation along lakes and ponds, often in mixture with tall reedy helophytes and forbs (habitat C5.1a). In low-productive lakes, particularly in northern Europe, Carex rostrata, C. lasiocarpa and C. aquatilis, with Equisetum fluviatile, are substituting taller reeds in water fringe helophyte vegetation. Such stands are very species poor, sometimes monospecific. However stands dominated by Carex rostrata and C. lasiocarpa in calcareous fens and bogs belong to the habitats D4.1c

Many tall sedges have an effective clonal growth: some species grow in large tussocks raising some tens of centimetres above the substrate. Wet hollows between tussocks, with accumulation of plant remains, are often occupied by small aquatic and emergent herbs and grasses (e.g. Galium palustris s.l., Lycopus europaeus, Ranunculus trichophyllus, Scutellaria galericulata, Lemna spp., Utricularia ssp.), aquatic mosses and hepatics (Calliergon spp., Drepanocladus aduncus, Riccia spp., Ricciocarpos natans). Various mixtures of herbs and grasses often indicate unstable successive states after disturbances.

Tall sedge communities have been earlier used for cattle grazing and mowing, and many have been converted to arable land and pasture. They are largely impacted by water level regulation, construction activities and eutrophication. In recent past eutrophication and decline of grazing has often led to the increase of tall reeds in the lower part of tall sedge communities, and to increase of shrubs and trees in the upper part. Tall plants from drier positions can also invade sedge-dominated stands. In dynamic alluvial landscapes this habitat may exist more sustainable, occupying slightly different sites over different years. In other sites it can only be maintained for longer times by mowing.

Indicators of good quality:

  • Natural water and flooding regime
  • No alteration of substrate chemistry
  • Species poor stands dominated by sedges
  • Low cover of annuals, ruderal and/or nitrophilous species
  • Low anthropogenic impacts in terms of construction activities, eutrophication, drainage etc.
  • No enhanced biomass due to eutrophication or replacement by tall reedy vegetation
  • Absence of invasive alien species (e.g. Impatiens glandulifera, Bidens frondosa, Ludwigia spp., Fallopia spp., etc.)
  • Shrubs and trees occur in low cover and do not show increasing trends
  • Low cover of tall herbs from drier positions and other habitats (e.g. Calystegia sepium, Eupatorium cannabinum, Valeriana officinalis, Cirsium spp., etc.)

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

This habitat type still has a wide distribution in Europe, despite a very large reduction in quantity (45-48%) and quality (relative severity of 42-43% on 54-55% of the extent) during the last 50 years, mainly due to intensification of agricultural land use. The habitat reaches the thresholds of Vulnerable (VU) for both EU28 and EU28+ according to criterion A1, and the figures are close th the Endangered threshold. According to criterion A3 and C/D1 the habitat qualifies for Near Threatened (NT), and in both cases values are very close to the threshold of Vulnerable. The assessment was carried out using data from only about 50% of the countries in which the habitat occur. Despite this, according to expert knowledge and literature, there is no argument to assume a very different situation in the rest of Europe.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable A1
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable A1

Confidence in the assessment

medium
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Modification of cultivation practices
    • Crop change
    • Grassland removal for arable land
    • Mowing / Cutting of grassland
    • Abandonment / Lack of  mowing
    • Grazing
    • Abandonment of pastoral systems, lack of grazing
    • Use of biocides, hormones and chemicals
    • Fertilisation
  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
    • Industrial or commercial areas
    • Discharges
    • Structures, buildings in the landscape
    • Storage of materials
  • Pollution
    • Pollution to surface waters (limnic, terrestrial, marine & brackish)
    • Pollution to groundwater (point sources and diffuse sources)
  • Natural System modifications
    • Human induced changes in hydraulic conditions
    • Landfill, land reclamation and drying out, general
    • Canalisation & water deviation
    • Flooding modifications
    • Water abstractions from groundwater
  • Climate change
    • Changes in abiotic conditions
    • Droughts and less precipitations
    • Flooding and rising precipitations
    • Changes in biotic conditions
    • Habitat shifting and alteration
    • Desynchronisation of processes

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 interested the groundwater level it may be possible to recover the habitat through hydrologic intervention and only if the chemical and physical soil conditions remained unaltered. If the damage concerns the land use, i.e. transformation of the habitat in agricultural land, trees plantation, it becomes almost impossible to properly recover the habitat due to the deep changes of the soil conditions. It could be possible through intervention recreating functionally similar conditions, but it would be difficult to have again the same species composition. There are not sufficient studies about restoration of this habitat type to have a clear vision of the efforts 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

Legal measures for limiting erosion of the habitat due to expanding human activities have already been taken from some European countries during the last years. However such measures are not evenly adopted in Europe. In some countries this habitat is considered protected, in some other is not. Water abstraction and regulation are limited and regulated only when the habitat belongs to a protected area. Common regulation about land use, water abstraction and agriculture should be applied in those countries where the habitat is less frequent and abundant. Periodic grazing and mowing could have positive results for the maintenance of some vegetation types typical of this habitat and for limiting the vegetation succession processes. Traditional landscape management could be reintroduced in some areas to improve the quality of the habitat. Another useful measure may be the respect of buffer zones between the habitat and the agricultural lands. Restoring the habitat could be useful in some areas where the habitat strongly declined, however the restoration of such habitat is always very hard and often not successful.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
    • Maintaining grasslands and other open habitats
  • 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
    • 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)
Austria Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Belgium Present 04-Oct Decreasing Stable
Bulgaria Present Unknown Unknown Increasing
Croatia Present 40 Decreasing Decreasing
Czech Republic Present 98 Decreasing Decreasing
Denmark Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Estonia Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Finland mainland Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Aland Islands Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
France mainland Present 300-600 Decreasing Decreasing
Corsica Present 300-600 Decreasing Decreasing
Germany Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Greece (mainland and other islands) Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Crete Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
East Aegean Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Hungary Present 120 Decreasing Decreasing
Ireland Present 300 Unknown Stable
Italy mainland Present 143 Decreasing Decreasing
Sardinia Present 143 Decreasing Decreasing
Sicily Present 143 Decreasing Decreasing
Latvia Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Lithuania Present 150-200 Decreasing Decreasing
Luxembourg Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Malta Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Netherlands Present 35 Unknown Stable
Poland Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Portugal mainland Present 14 Unknown Decreasing
Portugal Azores Present 14 Unknown Decreasing
Madeira Present 14 Unknown Decreasing
Savage Islands Present 14 Unknown Decreasing
Romania Present 15 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovakia Present 1 Stable Stable
Slovenia Present 31 Decreasing Decreasing
Spain mainland Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Balearic Islands Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Canary Islands Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Sweden Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
United Kingdom Present Unknown Unknown Decreasing
Northern Island Present Unknown Unknown Decreasing
Gibraltar Present Unknown Unknown Decreasing
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
Andorra Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 50 Decreasing Decreasing
Faroe Islands Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Guernsey Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Iceland Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Isle of Man Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Jersey Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Kaliningrad Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Kosovo Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Liechtestein Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Monaco Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Montenegro Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Norway Mainland Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Svalbard Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Jan Mayen Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
San Marino Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Serbia Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Switzerland Present 75 Stable Decreasing

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 8822750 4747 1929 Only 50% of the countries provided the total area.
EU28+ 4880 2054 Only 34% of the countries provided the total area.
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 fluviatile
Flowering Plants Bidens frondosa
Flowering Plants Calamagrostis canescens
Flowering Plants Calystegia sepium
Flowering Plants Carex acuta
Flowering Plants Carex cespitosa
Flowering Plants Carex rostrata
Flowering Plants Cladium mariscus
Flowering Plants Eupatorium cannabinum
Flowering Plants Impatiens glandulifera
Flowering Plants Lycopus europaeus
Flowering Plants Lythrum salicaria
Flowering Plants Mentha aquatica
Flowering Plants Oenanthe aquatica
Flowering Plants Phalaris arundinacea
Flowering Plants Ranunculus trichophyllus
Flowering Plants Rorippa amphibia
Flowering Plants Scutellaria galericulata
Flowering Plants Solanum dulcamara
Flowering Plants Valeriana officinalis
Invertebrates Dolomedes fimbriatus
Mosses & Liverworts Drepanocladus aduncus
Reptiles Hierophis viridiflavus
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Equisetum fluviatile Ferns
Bidens frondosa Flowering Plants
Calamagrostis canescens Flowering Plants
Calystegia sepium Flowering Plants
Carex acuta Flowering Plants
Carex cespitosa Flowering Plants
Carex rostrata Flowering Plants
Cladium mariscus Flowering Plants
Eupatorium cannabinum Flowering Plants
Impatiens glandulifera Flowering Plants
Lycopus europaeus Flowering Plants
Lythrum salicaria Flowering Plants
Mentha aquatica Flowering Plants
Oenanthe aquatica Flowering Plants
Phalaris arundinacea Flowering Plants
Ranunculus trichophyllus Flowering Plants
Rorippa amphibia Flowering Plants
Scutellaria galericulata Flowering Plants
Solanum dulcamara Flowering Plants
Valeriana officinalis Flowering Plants
Dolomedes fimbriatus Invertebrates
Drepanocladus aduncus Mosses & Liverworts
Hierophis viridiflavus Reptiles

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 D5.2 Beds of large sedges normally without free-standing water same
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