Red List habitat classification > RL - Marine habitats > RLBAL - Baltic > BAL43 Sparse or no macrofaunal communities on Baltic circalittoral rock and mixed substrata (predominantly hard)

Sparse or no macrofaunal communities on Baltic circalittoral rock and mixed substrata (predominantly hard)

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code BAL43
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)


The Baltic Sea benthic habitat occurs in the aphotic zone with at least 90% coverage of rock, boulders or stones and mixed (predominantly hard) substrates according to the HELCOM HUB classification. It is typically found in depths of 20 meters or more Where sessile/semi-sessile epibenthic fauna is present they covers less than 10% of the seabed and in some cases no epibenthic vegetation or macrofauna is present. Though the habitat is more uncommon in the Northern Baltic (due to the siltation and prevalence of sand and soft bottoms) it does exist also in the Bothnian Bay where the aphotic zone starts in quite shallow water (5-10 m depth), increasing the amount of rock and hard bottom in the circalittoral zone.

Four associated biotopes have been identified:  Baltic aphotic rock and boulders characterized by sparse epibenthic macrocommunity (AB.A2T); Baltic aphotic mixed substrate characterized by sparse epibenthic fauna (AB.M2T); Baltic aphotic rock and boulders characterized by no macrocommunity ( AB.A4U); and  Baltic aphotic mixed substrate characterized by no macrocommunity (AB.M4U).

Indicators of quality:  


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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The presence of this habitat type in the Baltic Sea is well known. It occurs in all the sub basins but quantitative data on the area covered is not available. Expert opinion is that habitat area and extent and habitat quality has been stable over the last 50 years.
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 three associated biotopes AB.A2T, AB.A4U and AB.M2T as Least Concern (A1). AB.M4U was not evaluated. The extent and area of this habitat is believed to have been stable over the last 50 years and no change is expected in the near future. Current expert opinion is that this habitat be assessed as Least Concern for both the EU 28 and EU 28+.
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • No threats or pressures
    • No threats or pressures

Habitat restoration potential


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 habtiat.

List of conservation and management needs

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


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
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.
EU28+ Unknown Unknown This habitat is present in all the Baltic sub-basins
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 Macoma balthica
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Macoma balthica Invertebrates

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

Not available
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