Red List habitat classification > RL - Marine habitats > RLMED - Mediterranean > MEDA2.25 Communities of Mediterranean mediolittoral sands

Communities of Mediterranean mediolittoral sands

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code MEDA2.25
Threat status
Europe Vulnerable
EU Vulnerable
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)


This habitat occupies the boundary between the poorly swashed, almost dry supralittoral sands and the permanently submerged infralittoral sands of Mediterranean beaches. The sediment grains range from gravels to fine sands. Coarser sediments are often found in beaches exposed to stronger wave action whilst finer sediments are common on the more sheltered shores. Depending on the sediment characteristics the infauna is dominated by polychaetes, oligochaetes, bivalves, amphipods and bivalves. Characateristic species of associated biotopes incude the polychaetes Pisione remotaSaccocirrus papillocercus, Scolelepis squamata and Ophelia bicornis,  the isopod Eurydice affinis and on the lower shore  by the bivalves Donax semistriatus and D. trunculus and the crab Portumnus latipes. This habitat is used for nesting by loggerhead turtle, Caretta caretta and green turtle, Chelonia mydas in parts of the eastern Mediterranean.

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.   As most bivalves are sensitive to pollution, air exposure, and habitat destruction they could be potential indicators of quality for this habitat.                                                                                                                         


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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

Although the quantitative data on trends are lacking and territorial data are not provided for all countries, it is possible to conclude from the available information that this habitat has undergone declines in extent and quality in the recent past. Such declines are expected to continue in response to ongoing pressures and predicted future impacts of climate change. The decline in extent over the last 50 years is estimated to have exceeded 30% and a similar scale of decline in predicted in the future. Declines in quality have not been quantified. This habitat has therefore been assessed as Vulnerable for the EU 28 and EU 28+.
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable A1, A2a, A2b
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable A1, A2a, A2b

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
  • Human intrusions and disturbances
    • Intensive maintenance of public parcs / Cleaning of beaches
  • Natural System modifications
    • Estuarine and coastal dredging
    • Modification of hydrographic functioning, general
    • Alteration of sea-floor/ Water body morphology
  • Climate change
    • Sea-level changes

Habitat restoration potential

Beach nourishment schemes may be used to restore the natural dynamics of beaches and enhance accretion so that beach sediment accumulates or is stabilised. The associated infaunal species are robust and able to colonise rapidly. Restoration of their use as turtle nesting beaches is likely to be on a longer time scale and dependent on other factors which affect the distribution and health of sea turtles.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Unknown Unknown
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

In some Mediterranean countries, strict limits and distance from the coast for dredging of sands and gravel are in place. Some beaches are also protected as NATURA 2000 sites and through regulation in MPAs because the Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) and the Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta caretta) use them as nesting beaches. 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 the hydrological regime
    • Restoring coastal areas
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites
    • Legal protection of habitats and species
  • 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 Decreasing Decreasing
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 2,457,261 1,410 8,509 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+ 1,410 8,509 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