Temperate inland salt marsh
|Red List habitat type||code RLE6.3|
|Source||European Red List habitat factsheet|
|European Red List of habitats reports|
|European Red List of habitats (Excel table)|
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
Synthesis of Red List assessment
|Red List Category||Red List Criteria|
|Red List Category||Red List Criteria|
Confidence in the assessment
Pressures and threats
- 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
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
- 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
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|
EOO = the area (km2) of the envelope around all occurrences of a habitat (calculated by a minimum convex polygon).