Red List habitat classification > RL - Marine habitats > RLBAL - Baltic > BAL32 Infaunal communities in Baltic infralittoral sand not dominated by bivalves

Infaunal communities in Baltic infralittoral sand not dominated by bivalves

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code BAL32
Threat status
Europe Least Concern
EU Least Concern
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)

Summary

This is a Baltic Sea benthic habitat in the photic zone where at least 90% of the substrate is sand according to the HELCOM HUB classification. There is a lack of macrovegetation or epibenthic macrofauna but crustaceans, polychaetes and insect larvae may dominate the infauna. The habitat is present in areas of high energy associated with wave action or currents.

Where polychaetes dominate the infauna two associated biotopes with different dominant species of polychaetes (at least 50% of the biomass of the infaunal polychaetes) can be identified. ‘Baltic photic sand dominated by lugworms (Arenicola marina)’ (AA.J3M2) usually at a depth of 1 – 5 meters, in high exposure and in salinities over 10 psu. It is distributed in only in the western Baltic Sea, in the Sound and the Belt Sea. ‘Baltic photic sand dominated by multiple infaunal polychaete species: Pygiospio elegans, Marenzelleria spp. and Hediste diversicolor’ (AA.J3M4) distributed in the whole Baltic Sea. Where crustaceans dominate the infauna one associated biotope has been identified: ‘Baltic photic sand dominated by sand digger shrimp (Bathyporeia pilosa)’ (AA.J3N3). Depth of this biotope is typically from 1 to 10 meters, and it is encountered in areas of moderate to high wave exposure with salinity over 4 psu. Another biotope ‘Baltic photic sand dominated by midge larvae (Chironomidae)’ (AA.J3P1) is identified by a large representation of Midge larvae (Chironomidae).

Indicators of quality: 

Both biotic and abiotic indicators have been used to describe marine habitat quality. These include: the presence of characteristic species as well as those which are sensitive to the pressures the habitat may face; water quality parameters; levels of exposure to particular pressure, and more integrated indices which describe habitat structure and function, such as trophic index, or successional stages of development in habitats that have a natural cycle of change over time.

There are no commonly agreed indicators of quality for this habitat, although particular parameters may have been set in certain situations e.g. protected features within Natura 2000 sites, where reference values have been determined and applied on a location-specific basis. Diversity, abundance and biomass of fauna are potential indicators of quality.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

There is a lack of quantitative data on current status and changes in extent and quality for the entire Baltic over the last 50 years although there are modelled data predicting distribution in some regions (e.g. Poland). One of the biotopes (where the infauna is dominated by the sand digger shrimp, Bathyporeia pilosa) is estimated to have declined by 10% over that time. The other biotopes have either been stable or increased.
The overall assessment for this EUNIS level 4 habitat has been based on the HELCOM (2013) assessments for the associated HELCOM HUB biotopes. Draft assessments were derived using a weighted approach whereby the HELCOM assessment outcomes were assigned a score. This was averaged across the relevant biotopes. The outcomes were reviewed by Baltic experts to reach a final conclusion. HELCOM (2013) assessed the four associated biotopes as Least Concern (A1). With no additional data on changes in extent or quality of this habitat the current expert opinion is an assessment of Least Concern for both the EU 28 and EU 28+.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -

Confidence in the assessment

low
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • No threats or pressures
    • No threats or pressures

Habitat restoration potential

Unknown

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Stable Stable
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Stable Stable
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

No conservation and management measures have been identified specifically for this habitat type at the present time.

List of conservation and management needs

  • No measures
    • No measures needed for the conservation of the habitat/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

Seas Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Baltic Proper Present Unknown Stable Stable
Belt Sea
Gulf of Bothnia
Gulf of Finland
Gulf of Riga
The Sound

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 >50,000 Unknown Unknown This habitat is present in all the Baltic sub-basins however there is insufficient information for accurate calculation of EOO and AOO.
EU28+ Unknown Unknown This habitat is present in all the Baltic sub-basins however there is insufficient information for accurate calculation of EOO and AOO.
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.
Invertebrates Arenicola marina
Invertebrates Bathyporeia pilosa
Invertebrates Monoporeia affinis
Invertebrates Mya arenaria
Invertebrates Travisia forbesii
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Arenicola marina Invertebrates
Bathyporeia pilosa Invertebrates
Monoporeia affinis Invertebrates
Mya arenaria Invertebrates
Travisia forbesii Invertebrates

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

Not available
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