Red List habitat classification > RL - Marine habitats > RLNEA - Atlantic > NEAA1.13 Macaronesian communities of upper eulittoral rock

Macaronesian communities of upper eulittoral rock

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code NEAA1.13
Threat status
Europe Data Deficient
EU Data Deficient
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)


This intertidal habitat occurs on rocky shores of bedrock and boulders in areas exposed to wave action during high tides as well as to the swell of large storms. It includes facies characterised by discontinuous belts of the red algae Bangia atropurpurea  and  Porphyra spp.. The associated fauna  include littorinids (Littorina striata, Malaraphe neritoides and Nodilittorina punctata), small crustaceans such as hermit crabs (Dardanus  and Pagurus spp.), acorn barnacle (Chthamallus stellatus) and the isopod Ligia itálica. In very exposed areas, the Sally Lightfoot crab (Grapsus adscensionis) or the Runner crab (Pachygrapsus marmoratus) are quite conspicuous.

It has been recorded from both the Azores (San Miguel) and the Canary Islands (Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Gomera, and La Palma), mainly on northern coasts, and is likely to occur around other Macaronesian islands.

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.  Indicators which have been developed for the assessment of ecological quality of coastal water bodies for the Water Framework Directive (WFD) that are relevant to this habitat include a consideration of macroalgae species richness, proportions of different taxa of algae present, and the abundance and coverage of the rocky surfaces by typical species. 

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

This habitat is only present in the EU 28 in the North East Atlantic region. There is insufficient information to determine historical, current or future trends in quantity or quality although it is considered likely to decline in the future if conservation measures are not introduced. The known distribution is such that the identified threats are unlikely to affect all localities at once.
This habitat has large EOO and therefore qualifies as Least Concern under criterion B1. The AOO suggests it could be Endangered under criterion B2 however, given the lack of information on trends in quantity and quality, and the fact that the overall distribution is unknown, expert opinion is this habitat should be considered Data Deficient.
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Data Deficient
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Data Deficient -

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
    • Discharges
  • Pollution
    • Pollution to surface waters (limnic, terrestrial, marine & brackish)
    • Nutrient enrichment (N, P, organic matter)
    • Marine water pollution
  • Invasive, other problematic species and genes
    • Invasive non-native species

Habitat restoration potential

There is insufficient information to determine whether this habitat retains the capacity to recover when severely damaged.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Unknown Unknown
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Unknown Unknown
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

This habitat is included within some Macaronesian Special Areas of Conservation such as Los Islotes on Lanzarote, Lobos Islands, Fuerteventura and the Garafia Coastal Area on La Palma. There are associated management measures, regulations and codes of conduct in these Marine Protected Areas but not necessarily targeting this specific habitat. Regulation of coastal development, improved management of discharges to the marine environment and controls on the potential introduction of invasive species are other measures that could benefit this habitat.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Restoring/Improving water quality
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Other marine-related measures
    • Establish protected areas/sites
  • Measures related to urban areas, industry, energy and transport
    • Urban and industrial waste management
    • Managing marine traffic


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)
Macaronesia 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 268,431 >16 Unknown Based on a limited data set. AOO is known to be an underestimate.
EU28+ >16 Unknown Based on a limited data set. AOO is known to be an underestimate.
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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