Red List habitat classification > RLE - Grasslands > RLE6.3 Temperate inland salt marsh

Temperate inland salt marsh

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLE6.3
Threat status
Europe Endangered
EU Endangered
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)

Summary

This habitat refers to inland salt marshes and meadows in temperate and continental regions, which are dominated by halophytic (salt-adapted) plants. In Western and Central Europe this habitat is found in places where fossil salt lies close to the surface or were relict sea water is present, resulting in brackish or saline ground and surface water. Such sites are extremely rare.

In Western and Central Europe the habitat occurs on several types of bedrock, like on marble in Lorraine, on travertine in the Auvergne, on so-called Zechstein in England, Germany and Poland, and on miocene salt rocks in Poland. This habitat is naturally found in places where fossil salt deposits have been uplifted to the surface in the form of domes or pillows or where salty water related to the salt stratums or relict seawater is present close to the surface. In the Atlantic regions plant communities belong to the (mainly coastal) classes Thero-Salicornietea and Juncetea maritimi and the alliance Potentillion anserinae. The species composition resembles that of coastal salt marshes (A2.5abc), but some coastal species are never found in inland sites and also the functioning of inland and coastal salt marshes is very different. A very specific case form the saline spring fens on travertine soils in the Slovakian Carpathians, with among others Trichophorum pumilum, Pinguicula vulgaris, Parnassia palustris and Primula farinosa, but these are considered as a subhabitat of D4.1a (Small-sedge base-rich fens and calcareous spring mires).

In more continental regions inland salt pans are more common, like in the Pannonian plain, Central Balkan and in the steppic areas of South-Eastern Europe. Here the habitat is found on hypersaline (solonetz and solonchak) soils, where it occurs as depressions within a matrix of alkaline steppes and as subhalophytic, mesic meadows. In these regions the habitat contains vegetation of the classes Thero-Salicornietea (alliance Salicornion prostratae) and Festuco-Puccinellietea (alliance Juncion gerardii and Beckmannion eruciformis).  

Like in coastal salt marshes, within the habitat often a vegetation zonation is found, reflecting different levels of salinity, related with microtopography. Lower parts of the habitat in most cases are sparsely vegetated with Salicornia europaea, S. emerici var. vicensis (in Lorraine), S. perennans (= S. prostrata), Suaeda maritima , Suaeda prostrata, Suaeda pannonica, Salsola soda, Spergularia salina and Spergularia maritima, Puccinellia distans and sometimes Puccinellia fasciculata. In the Atlantic region on moist sites, the saline meadows and pastures resemble that of coastal salt marshes, with a combination of Agrostis stolonifera, Juncus gerardi, Glaux maritima, Carex distans, Plantago maritima, Glaux maritima, Tetragonolobus maritimus, Triglochin maritima and Aster tripolium, and on more brackish sites Lotus tenuis, Trifolium fragiferum, Potentilla anserina, Alopecurus bulbosus, Alopecurus geniculatus, Festuca arundinacea, Blysmus rufus and Juncus compressus.

Moist saline meadows in the continental region are characterised by Juncus gerardi, Carex distans, Agrostis stolonifera, Aster tripolium subsp. pannonicus, Cirsium brachycephalum, Melilotus dentatus, Scorzonera parviflora, Mentha pulegium, and Lotus tenuis. On drier edges communities with Puccinellia distans or Puccinellia limosa are found (alliance Puccinellion limosae), communities that are also found in (wetter parts of) salt steppes (E6.2). In South-Eastern Europe halophytic and sub-halophytic moist meadows that are dominated by Elytrigia obtusiflorus (Elymus elongatus subsp. ponticus), Festuca arundinacea and Phacelurus digitatus are included in this habitat.

Besides the dominance of halophytic and sub-halophytic plant communities, also part of the associated fauna is characteristic halophytic. Examples are the mott Coleophora adjunctella (living on Juncus gerardi), and the beetles Hygrotus parallelogrammus, Enochrus bicolor and Bembidion minimum.

Small stands of Bolboschoenus maritimus, Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani or Phragmites australis may be present, especially where the water table remains high during the year, but where these species form larger, brackish reedbeds, they are considered as a separate wetland habitat C5.4. In the continental regions in drier sites alkaline steppic grasslands are found, which are considered under habitat E6.2 (Continental inland salt steppes), and have some species in common. Mediterranean inland salt marshes and steppes are considered as a separate habitat under E6.1. Habitats with saline vegetation of the Crypsietea aculeatae are considered under habitat C3.5c.

The habitat can occur as a natural or semi-natural system. In the latter case sites are traditionally used as meadows or pastures. In natural sites succession is mainly limited or prevented by long-term inundation and high soil salinity. Desalinisation and abandonment of traditional management may lead to an increase of ruderal species and scrubs, and transitions towards other habitats.

In Western and Central Europe the habitat is naturally rare in Germany, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, England, France and Italy. Also on the Balkan the habitat is relatively rare, and among others found in Macedonia and Bulgaria. Inland salt pans are more common in the Pannonian lowland and occur even more widespread further eastwards, in the steppe regions of the Ukraine, the Caspian Lowlands of Russia and the Central Asian (semi)deserts.

Although in some cases referred to as Annex 1-type 1340 and having similar vegetation, saline coastal sites that became relatively recently (approximately since the Middle Ages) isolated from the sea by natural dynamics or embankment are not included here, but are considered under coastal habitats (B-group).

Anthropogenic sites associated with salt industry or other present human activity are not considered under this habitat (like saline sites along roads resulting from salt deposition during winter). But abandoned salt mines or waste deposits, which now have a semi-natural character and harbour the characteristic species combination, may be included under the habitat.

Indicators of good quality:

  • High water table during (at least) part of the season, resulting in regular disturbance
  • Dominance of halophytic and sub-halophytic species
  • Presence of rare, halophytic fauna
  • High soil salinity (ECe over 4 dS/m)
  • Maintenance of traditional management (extensive grazing, mowing)
  • Absence of ruderal species and shrubs
  • Absence of disturbance by man

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

Due to the large reduction in quantity the category Endangered is scored. Additionally, the relatively severe reduction in quality parameters results in the Red List category Near Threatened.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Endangered A1
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Endangered A1

Confidence in the assessment

medium
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Agricultural intensification
    • Intensive grazing
    • Abandonment of pastoral systems, lack of grazing
  • Natural System modifications
    • Human induced changes in hydraulic conditions
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Species composition change (succession)

Habitat restoration potential

Inland salt marshes in most cases are seminatural habitats and therefore, for conservation and restoration, they should be traditionally used as meadows or pastures. The use should be extensive: for example traditional mowing includes one treatment per year in June or two treatments in June and August, while pasturing for example should be carried out by about 1 lifestock unit/ha. In places where habitat degradation has been caused by damage of natural hydrological conditions recovery needs restoration of former natural supply of salty water. The time needed for restoration depends on the severity of the caused damage.

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

For maintaining the diversity of inland salt marshes extensive grazing by cattle or sheep is known to be the optimum management leading to the highest diversity. However, traditional mowing could be also applied. In general no management (like abandonment) leads to relatively species-poor reedbeds with dominance of Phragmites australis. Inland salt marshes, especially in humid climate, are dependent on the supply of saline springs or saline ground water. Therefore, the natural hydrological conditions should be protected. In places where the hydrological conditions already have been damaged their reconstruction (for example by damming drainage ditches) are recommended to provoke flooding of saline water. In case of inland salt marshes managed as hay meadows fertilization and supply by fodder species (eg. Lolium perenne) should be prohibited.

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 the hydrological regime
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites
    • Legal protection of habitats and species

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)
Bulgaria Present 3 Decreasing Decreasing
Czech Republic Present 1 Decreasing Decreasing
France mainland Present 7.7 Decreasing Decreasing
Germany Present 4 Decreasing Decreasing
Italy mainland Present 0.03 Unknown Decreasing
Poland Present 0.7 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovakia Present 2.75 Unknown Decreasing
United Kingdom Present 0.005 Decreasing Decreasing
Romania Present 1.3 Unknown Decreasing
Slovenia Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Austria Present 4 Decreasing Decreasing
Hungary Present 110 Decreasing 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)
Serbia Present 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 2194650 236 135 calculated
EU28+ 249 >135 not reported
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.
Birds Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
Birds Anthus pratensis
Birds Botaurus stellaris
Birds Coturnix coturnix
Birds Crex crex
Birds Emberiza calandra
Birds Gallinago gallinago
Birds Gallinula chloropus
Birds Ixobrychus minutus
Birds Lanius excubitor
Birds Limosa limosa
Birds Luscinia svecica
Birds Motacilla flava
Birds Oenanthe oenanthe
Birds Porzana porzana
Birds Rallus aquaticus
Birds Riparia riparia
Birds Saxicola rubetra
Birds Tachybaptus ruficollis
Birds Tringa totanus
Birds Vanellus vanellus
Flowering Plants Agrostis stolonifera
Flowering Plants Alopecurus bulbosus
Flowering Plants Alopecurus geniculatus
Flowering Plants Aster tripolium
Flowering Plants Atriplex prostrata
Flowering Plants Beckmannia eruciformis
Flowering Plants Blysmus rufus
Flowering Plants Bolboschoenus maritimus
Flowering Plants Bupleurum tenuissimum
Flowering Plants Carex cuprina
Flowering Plants Carex distans
Flowering Plants Carex divisa
Flowering Plants Centaurium pulchellum
Flowering Plants Cirsium brachycephalum
Flowering Plants Festuca arundinacea
Flowering Plants Frankenia hirsuta
Flowering Plants Glaux maritima
Flowering Plants Halimione pedunculata
Flowering Plants Halocnemum strobilaceum
Flowering Plants Hordeum hystrix
Flowering Plants Hordeum jubatum
Flowering Plants Hordeum marinum
Flowering Plants Juncus compressus
Flowering Plants Juncus gerardi
Flowering Plants Leontodon taraxacoides
Flowering Plants Limonium vulgare
Flowering Plants Lotus glaber
Flowering Plants Lotus tenuis
Flowering Plants Mentha pulegium
Flowering Plants Parnassia palustris
Flowering Plants Phacelurus digitatus
Flowering Plants Phragmites australis
Flowering Plants Pinguicula vulgaris
Flowering Plants Plantago coronopus
Flowering Plants Plantago maritima
Flowering Plants Plantago tenuiflora
Flowering Plants Potentilla anserina
Flowering Plants Primula farinosa
Flowering Plants Puccinellia distans
Flowering Plants Puccinellia fasciculata
Flowering Plants Puccinellia limosa
Flowering Plants Pulegium vulgare
Flowering Plants Ranunculus sardous
Flowering Plants Salicornia emerici
Flowering Plants Salicornia europaea
Flowering Plants Salsola soda
Flowering Plants Samolus valerandi
Flowering Plants Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani
Flowering Plants Scirpus maritimus
Flowering Plants Scorzonera parviflora
Flowering Plants Spergularia marina
Flowering Plants Spergularia maritima
Flowering Plants Spergularia media
Flowering Plants Spergularia salina
Flowering Plants Suaeda maritima
Flowering Plants Suaeda pannonica
Flowering Plants Suaeda prostrata
Flowering Plants Taraxacum bessarabicum
Flowering Plants Tetragonolobus maritimus
Flowering Plants Trichophorum pumilum
Flowering Plants Trifolium fragiferum
Flowering Plants Triglochin maritima
Flowering Plants Tripolium pannonicum
Invertebrates Acupalpus elegans
Invertebrates Amara strandi
Invertebrates Berosus spinosus
Invertebrates Campsicnemus magius
Invertebrates Coleophora adjunctella
Invertebrates Dicheirotrichus obsoletus
Invertebrates Dolichopus clavipes
Invertebrates Enochrus bicolor
Invertebrates Medetera truncorum
Invertebrates Melanostolus nigricilius
Invertebrates Micromorphus albipes
Invertebrates Ochthebius auriculatus
Invertebrates Pogonus chalceus
Invertebrates Schoenophilus versutus
Invertebrates Syntormon filiger
Invertebrates Tachytrechus notatus
Invertebrates Thinophilus flavipalpis
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Acrocephalus schoenobaenus Sedge Warbler Birds
Anthus pratensis Meadow Pipit Birds
Botaurus stellaris Bittern Birds
Coturnix coturnix Quail Birds
Crex crex Corncrake Birds
Emberiza calandra Birds
Gallinago gallinago Snipe Birds
Gallinula chloropus Moorhen Birds
Ixobrychus minutus Little Bittern Birds
Lanius excubitor Great Grey Shrike Birds
Limosa limosa Black-tailed Godwit Birds
Luscinia svecica Bluethroat Birds
Motacilla flava Yellow Wagtail Birds
Oenanthe oenanthe Wheatear Birds
Porzana porzana Spotted Crake Birds
Rallus aquaticus Water Rail Birds
Riparia riparia Sand Martin Birds
Saxicola rubetra Whinchat Birds
Tachybaptus ruficollis Little Grebe Birds
Tringa totanus Redshank Birds
Vanellus vanellus Lapwing Birds
Agrostis stolonifera Flowering Plants
Alopecurus bulbosus Flowering Plants
Alopecurus geniculatus Flowering Plants
Aster tripolium Flowering Plants
Atriplex prostrata Flowering Plants
Beckmannia eruciformis Flowering Plants
Blysmus rufus Flowering Plants
Bolboschoenus maritimus Flowering Plants
Bupleurum tenuissimum Flowering Plants
Carex cuprina Flowering Plants
Carex distans Flowering Plants
Carex divisa Flowering Plants
Centaurium pulchellum Flowering Plants
Cirsium brachycephalum Flowering Plants
Festuca arundinacea Flowering Plants
Frankenia hirsuta Flowering Plants
Glaux maritima Flowering Plants
Halimione pedunculata Flowering Plants
Halocnemum strobilaceum Flowering Plants
Hordeum hystrix Flowering Plants
Hordeum jubatum Flowering Plants
Hordeum marinum Flowering Plants
Juncus compressus Flowering Plants
Juncus gerardi Flowering Plants
Leontodon taraxacoides Flowering Plants
Limonium vulgare Flowering Plants
Lotus glaber Flowering Plants
Lotus tenuis Flowering Plants
Mentha pulegium Flowering Plants
Parnassia palustris Flowering Plants
Phacelurus digitatus Flowering Plants
Phragmites australis Flowering Plants
Pinguicula vulgaris Flowering Plants
Plantago coronopus Flowering Plants
Plantago maritima Flowering Plants
Plantago tenuiflora Flowering Plants
Potentilla anserina Flowering Plants
Primula farinosa Flowering Plants
Puccinellia distans Flowering Plants
Puccinellia fasciculata Flowering Plants
Puccinellia limosa Flowering Plants
Pulegium vulgare Flowering Plants
Ranunculus sardous Flowering Plants
Salicornia emerici Flowering Plants
Salicornia europaea Flowering Plants
Salsola soda Flowering Plants
Samolus valerandi Flowering Plants
Schoenoplectus tabernaemontani Flowering Plants
Scirpus maritimus Flowering Plants
Scorzonera parviflora Flowering Plants
Spergularia marina Flowering Plants
Spergularia maritima Flowering Plants
Spergularia media Flowering Plants
Spergularia salina Flowering Plants
Suaeda maritima Flowering Plants
Suaeda pannonica Flowering Plants
Suaeda prostrata Flowering Plants
Taraxacum bessarabicum Flowering Plants
Tetragonolobus maritimus Flowering Plants
Trichophorum pumilum Flowering Plants
Trifolium fragiferum Flowering Plants
Triglochin maritima Flowering Plants
Tripolium pannonicum Flowering Plants
Acupalpus elegans Invertebrates
Amara strandi Invertebrates
Berosus spinosus Invertebrates
Campsicnemus magius Invertebrates
Coleophora adjunctella Invertebrates
Dicheirotrichus obsoletus Invertebrates
Dolichopus clavipes Invertebrates
Enochrus bicolor Invertebrates
Medetera truncorum Invertebrates
Melanostolus nigricilius Invertebrates
Micromorphus albipes Invertebrates
Ochthebius auriculatus Invertebrates
Pogonus chalceus Invertebrates
Schoenophilus versutus Invertebrates
Syntormon filiger Invertebrates
Tachytrechus notatus Invertebrates
Thinophilus flavipalpis 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 D6.1 Inland saltmarshes narrower
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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