Red List habitat classification > RL - Marine habitats > RLNEA - Atlantic > NEAA2.22 Barren or amphipod-dominated Atlantic littoral mobile sand

Barren or amphipod-dominated Atlantic littoral mobile sand

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code NEAA2.22
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 comprises shores of clean mobile sands (coarse, medium and some fine-grained), with little very fine sand, and no mud present. Shells and stones may occasionally be present on the surface. The sand may be duned or rippled as a result of wave action or tidal currents. The sands are non-cohesive, with low water retention, and thus subject to drying out between tides, especially on the upper shore and where the shore profile is steep. Mobile sand shores are typically situated along open stretches of coastline, with a relatively high degree of wave exposure. Bands of gravel and shingle may be present on the upper shore of exposed beaches. Where the wave exposure is less, and the shore profile more shallow, mobile sand communities may also be present on the upper part of the shore, with more stable fine sand communities present lower down. Mobile sand shores may show significant seasonal changes, with sediment accretion during calm summer periods and beach erosion during more stormy winter months. There may be a change in sediment particle size structure, with finer sediment grains washed out during winter months, leaving behind coarser sediments. Most of these shores support a limited variety of species, ranging from barren, highly mobile sands to more stable clean sands, supporting communities of isopods, amphipods and a limited number of polychaete species. 

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 type has a widespread distribution in the North East Atlantic region, with examples known to be present in locations as widely separated as northern Spain and the coast of the Netherlands. It is present in a very dynamic environment, where conditions that influence its extent can fluctuate significantly within seasons and inter-annually, as well as spatially. There have been localised losses/damage to this habitat, for example following oil spills, as well as recovery. This pattern is likely to continue.
This habitat has a large EOO and AOO, 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

  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Discharges
  • Pollution
    • Marine water pollution
    • Oil spills in the sea
    • Toxic chemical discharge from material dumped at sea
    • Synthetic compound contamination
  • Natural System modifications
    • Human induced changes in hydraulic conditions
    • Modification of hydrographic functioning, general
    • Dykes, embankments, artificial beaches, general
    • Sea defense or coast protection works, tidal barrages
  • Climate change
    • Changes in abiotic conditions
    • Water flow changes (limnic, tidal and oceanic)
    • Wave exposure changes

Habitat restoration potential

Yes. This is a naturally dynamic habitat which is regularly subject to disturbance. The associated species groups, isopods, amphipods and a limited number of polychaete species, which occur under these conditions are likely to be able to recolonise disturbed areas relatively rapidly.

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

Beneficial management measures for this habitat could include the regulation of activities which damage or disturb shore communities, regulation of coastal developments and of the construction of hard coastal defence structures. Additionally, water quality improvement programmes to reduce the risk of toxic contamination would prevent degradation of the habitat.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Restoring/Improving water quality
    • Restoring/Improving the hydrological regime
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Other marine-related measures
  • 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)
Bay of Biscay and the Iberian Coast Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Celtic Seas
Greater North 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 972,052 318 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+ >318 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

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
Phone: +45 3336 7100