Inland sanddrift and dune with siliceous grassland
|Red List habitat type||code RLE1.9b|
|Source||European Red List habitat factsheet|
|European Red List of habitats reports|
|European Red List of habitats (Excel table)|
These are open grasslands on inland sand-drift areas, dunes and other sites with poorly developed sandy, acidic and nutrient-poor soils, characterized by a pattern of small tussocks of the grass Corynephorus canescens and/or patches of the stoloniferous graminoids Agrostis vinealis and Carex arenaria in a matrix of lichens, mosses and open sand. The habitat has its main distribution in the North Central European lowland of the Netherlands, Germany and Poland, and in this region the large open landscapes formed by the habitat are known as ‘Atlantic deserts’. The habitat is considered to be the result of overexploitation of woodlands and heathlands since the Middle Ages, and these sand drifts had their largest distribution in the middle of the 19th century.
The open sand is an extreme habitat, with high temperatures and extreme drought during summer, where only a few plants and animals can live. Some of the characteristic fauna here have their main distribution in the Southeast European steppes, for example the grasshopper Oedipoda caerulescens and the butterfly Hipparchia semele semele.
Soil development occurs very slowly, due to wind erosion and nutrient poverty. In the Netherlands and Germany the following succession stages have been distinguished: open sand, pioneer communities with Polytrichum piliferum, lichen-rich open grassland with Corynephorus canescens, lichen-rich open grassland with Agrostis vinealis and Festuca spp., and more closed grasslands with Carex areanaria and Deschampsia flexuosa with few lichens. Further development leads to heathland with Calluna vulgaris. This succession is exaggerated by nutrient input, for example from nitrogen deposition, which also favours the dominance of the non-native moss Campylopus introflexus. Characteristic lichens of the younger succession stages are Stereocaulon condensatum and small-cup lichens, like Cladonia pulivinata, Cladonia cervicornis, Cladonia glauca, Cladonia strepsilis and Cladonia borealis. The Agrostis vinealis stage is also indicated by Cladonia portentosa, Cladonia zopfii and Cladonia uncialis. Where wind erosion of sand occurs up to a deeper soil layer, moist depressions develop, in which typically Juncus sqarrosus is found.
The habitat occurs in mosaics with heathland, scrub and forest, and such mosaics are an especially suitable habitat for birds like Lullula arborea and Anthus campestris. Small patches of open Corynephorus vegetation occur as open spots in heathlands, but in such cases these patches should be considered as part of dry heathlands, providing some differentiation in structure and some additional species diversity and therefore adding to the quality of the heathland habitat.
Outside the North Central European plains, the habitat is found in lowlands of southern Central Europe, the Baltic states, Southern Sweden and Denmark, Western Ukraine and the region Aquitaine of Southwest France. It occurs rarely in the UK, Italy and the Iberian Peninsula.
Habitat type E1.9b represents the part of the phytosociological order Corynephoretalia canescentis with its only alliance Corynephorion canescentis that occurs on sites not located close to the sea coast. On coastal dunes, there are floristically and ecologically very similar to indistinguishable stands, which in the current typology are considered as part of the habitat type B1.4a − Atlantic and Baltic coastal stable dune grasslands (grey dunes).
With decreasing sand mobility, the natural succession of the habitat type typically leads to meso-xeric sandy grasslands with closed swards (order Trifolio arvensis-Festucetalia ovinae; habitat type E1.9a − Oceanic to sub-continental inland sand grassland on dry acid and neutral soils). Under subcontinental to continental climates on base-rich soils, often sandy grasslands of the order Sedo acris-Festucetalia (habitat type E1.1a Pannonian and Pontic sandy steppe) are inserted in this sequence, while under the most oceanic climates and most acidic soils, Deschampsia flexuosa grasslands or Calluna vulgaris heaths of the class Calluno-Ulicetea might follow more or less immediately.
Indicators of good quality
- Maintenance of open sand, and open grassland in different stages of succession
- Active processes of sand transport by wind
- High diversity in lichens
- Presence and maintenance of populations of characteristic fauna (birds, insects)
- Part of a landscape mosaic with forest and heathland
- No dominance of non-native species, such as Campylopus introflexus
- Little or no regeneration of trees
- Absence of high levels of nitrogen deposition
Synthesis of Red List assessment
|Red List Category||Red List Criteria|
|Red List Category||Red List Criteria|
Confidence in the assessment
Pressures and threats
- Sylviculture, forestry
- Forest planting on open ground
- Invasive, other problematic species and genes
- Invasive non-native species
- Problematic native species
- Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
- Biocenotic evolution, succession
Habitat restoration potential
Trends in extent
Average current trend in quantity
Trends in quality
Average current trend in quality
Conservation and management needs
List of conservation and management needs
- Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
- Maintaining grasslands and other open habitats
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)|
|EU28 +||Present or presence uncertain||Current area of habitat (Km2)||Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years)||Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)|
Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area
|Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2)||Area of Occupancy (AOO)||Current estimated Total Area||Comment|
|EU28||2811350||1241||380||Provided country data say 284 kmÂ², but several countries with occurrences did not provide data and figures for Germany and Poland appear too low|
|EU28+||1241||400||Kaliningrad and possibly Norway|
EOO = the area (km2) of the envelope around all occurrences of a habitat (calculated by a minimum convex polygon).
Relation to other habitat types mentioned in legal instruments
Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)Not available
|Classification||Code||Habitat type name||Relationship type|
|EUNIS Habitat Classification 200711||E1.9||Open non-Mediterranean dry acid and neutral grassland, including inland dune grassland||narrower|