Red List habitat classification > RL - Marine habitats > RLBAL - Baltic > BAL54 Infaunal communities of Baltic upper circalittoral sand not dominated by bivalves

Infaunal communities of Baltic upper circalittoral sand not dominated by bivalves

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code BAL54
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)


This habitat occurs on Baltic aphotic bottoms with at least 90% coverage of sand according to the HELCOM HUB classification. Sessile/semi-sessile epibenthic macrofauna are generally not present while the biomass of infauna is typically dominated by polychaetes, crustaceans, or insect larvae. This habitat is encountered in sand typically at depths below 30m in moderate to high energy exposure areas. Three associated biotopes have been identified variously characterised by infaunal polychates (Pygospio elegans, Marenzelleria spp. and Hediste diversicolor), crustaceans (Monoporeia affinis and Saduria entomon) or midge larvae (Chironomidae). These species groups constitute at least 50% of the biomass.

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 overtime. 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

The presence of this habitat type in the Baltic is well known. It occurs in all the sub-basins and is mostly considered to have been stable over the last 50 years although there has been some increase in the extent of the biotope which is dominated by multiple infaunal polychaetes such as Pygospio elegans, Marenzelleria spp. and Hediste diversicolor, and some decrease where Monoporeia affinis dominates.
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 three biotopes AB.J3M4, AB.J3N1 and AB.J3P1 as Least Concern (A1). Current expert opinion is that because the habitat is considered to be stable and has a wide geographical distribution it should 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 specific to this habitat.

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 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 therefore EOO is likely to exceed 50,000km2
EU28+ Unknown Unknown This habitat is present in all the Baltic sub-basins therefore EOO is likely to exceed 50,000km2
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

Not available

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

Not available
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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1050 Copenhagen K
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