Red List habitat classification > RL - Marine habitats > RLNEA - Atlantic > NEAA2.11 Marine Atlantic littoral shingle (pebble) and gravel

Marine Atlantic littoral shingle (pebble) and gravel

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code NEAA2.11
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)


Shingle beaches occur on high energy wave dominated coasts where a sediment supply is available for reworking. The shingle (mobile cobbles and pebbles) or coarse gravel, is typically deposited as a result of onshore wave action and long-shore drift and the beach profile tends to be relatively steep. The particle size tends to increase along the shore in the direction of the long-shore drift. As the sediment is very coarse and often quite mobile, it typically supports little marine life, other than opportunist amphipods and oligochaete worms. Summer growths of ephemeral green algae (Enteromorpha spp.) may develop.

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.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

Shingle, gravel and pebble features in the intertidal zone constantly change morphologically as their finite sediment supply is reworked landward, offshore and alongshore. Trends therefore need to be viewed in the context of natural accretion and erosion and reworking of the sediment. Athough changes have been studied in detail in some locations (e.g. Dungeness Spit and Chesil Beach in the UK) there is insufficient information to determine any trends in quantity or quality of this habitat throughout the North East Atlantic region.
This habitat has a large EOO and AOO (based on the distribution of vegetated shingle), and therefore qualifies as Least Concern under criterion B. However the habitat is assessed as Data Deficient both at the EU 28 and EU 28+ levels because of the lack of information on trends in quantity and quality.
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

  • Natural System modifications
    • Removal of sediments (mud...)
    • Modification of hydrographic functioning, general
    • Sea defense or coast protection works, tidal barrages
    • Other ecosystem modifications
    • Reduction or loss of specific habitat features
    • Anthropogenic reduction of habitat connectivity
    • Reduction, lack or prevention of erosion

Habitat restoration potential

This is a very robust, species poor habitat so has the capacity to become re-established where the substrate and exposure conditions are suitable. The limiting factor is supply of shingle and gravel where this originates from relict glacial deposits.

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

Conservation and management of this habitat requires consideration of its geomorphological context and the coastal process that sustain it and may therefore need to be wide ranging. At a more local level useful measures are controls on coast protection works, on shore constructions and preventing the direct removal of shingle, pebble and gravel from the beach.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Other marine-related measures
    • Manage landscape features
  • Measures related to special resouce use
    • Regulating/Managing exploitation of natural resources on sea


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)
Greater North Sea Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Bay of Biscay and the Iberian Coast
Celtic Seas

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 3,581,679 729 Unknown EOO and AOO have been calculated on the available data. Although this data set is known to be incomplete the figures exceed the thresholds for threatened status.
EU28+ 757 Unknown EOO and AOO have been calculated on the available data. Although this data set is known to be incomplete the figures exceed the thresholds for threatened status.
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 Pectenogammarus planicrurus
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Pectenogammarus planicrurus Invertebrates

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

Not available
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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