Red List habitat classification > RL - Marine habitats > RLMED - Mediterranean > MEDA2.13 Communities of Mediterranean mediolittoral coarse sediment

Communities of Mediterranean mediolittoral coarse sediment

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code MEDA2.13
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)


Littoral coarse sediments are found along relatively exposed open shores, where wave action prevents finer sediments from settling. This habitat include shores of mobile pebbles, cobbles and gravel, sometimes with varying amounts of coarse sand. The sediment is highly mobile and subject to high degrees of drying between tides, while sediment particle size structure may vary seasonally, with relatively finer sediments able to settle during calmer conditions in summer. As a result, few species are able to survive in this environment. It is occupied by scavengers species that feed on various plant debris and waste material retained between the pebbles and gravel. Beaches of mobile cobbles and pebbles tend to be devoid of macroinfauna, while gravelly shores may support limited numbers of crustaceans, polychaetes and holothurians. These communities are exposed to alternating water submersion and emersion because of variations in the water level. 

One of associated biotopes consist mainly of detritus-feeding species which draw their nourishment from decaying vegetation and miscellaneous debris caught up in the shingle. It is characterised by two crustaceans, the amphipod Gammarus olivii and the isopod Sphaeroma serratum

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

This habitat is present in all the Mediterranean sub-basins although there is a lack of information on the area covered. At least 30% of all littoral habitats in the Mediterranean have disappeared over the last 50 years. It is therefore reasonable to assume that this soft substrate habitat has also suffered losses but there is insufficient information to quantify any such a trend.
This habitat has therefore been assessed as Data Deficient for both the EU 28 and EU 28+.
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

  • Mining, extraction of materials and energy production
    • Sand and gravel extraction
    • Sand and gravel quarries
    • Removal of beach materials
  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
    • Industrial or commercial areas
    • Discharges
  • Pollution
    • Pollution to surface waters (limnic, terrestrial, marine & brackish)
    • Marine water pollution
    • Soil pollution and solid waste (excluding discharges)

Habitat restoration potential

The capacity of this habitat to recover after it has been severely damaged is unknown.

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

There are a variety of measures and regulations in place to manage this habitat. For example, in some Mediterranean countries, there are strict limits on distance from the coast for dredging of sands and gravel. Some beaches are also protected as NATURA 2000 sites. Additional beneficial actions could including; preventing activities such as coast protection works that destablise the habitat or interfere with the natural dynamics; beach nourishment schemes using appropriate materials and developing management practices for the beach cleaning which avoid the use of heavy machinery.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Restoring/Improving water quality
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites
    • Legal protection of habitats and species
    • Manage landscape features
  • Measures related to urban areas, industry, energy and transport
    • Urban and industrial waste management
  • 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)
Adriatic Sea Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Aegian-Levantine Sea
Ionian Sea and the Central Mediterranean Sea
Western Mediterranean Sea

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 Mediterranean sub-basins.
EU28+ unknown Unknown This habitat is present in all the Mediterranean 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 Echinogammarus planicrurus
Invertebrates Gammarus marinus
Invertebrates Gammarus olivii
Invertebrates Perinereis cultrifera
Invertebrates Sphaeroma serratum
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Echinogammarus planicrurus Invertebrates
Gammarus marinus Invertebrates
Gammarus olivii Invertebrates
Perinereis cultrifera Invertebrates
Sphaeroma serratum Invertebrates

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

Not available
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