Red List habitat classification > RL - Marine habitats > RLMED - Mediterranean > MEDA5.13 Faunal communities in Mediterranean infralittoral coarse sediment

Faunal communities in Mediterranean infralittoral coarse sediment

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code MEDA5.13
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)

Summary

This habitat is usually associated with the mouths of big rivers and streams, but it is also found as a fringe close to the rocky margins in bays and adjacent to coarse sandy beaches (4-25 m depth) in exposed areas subjected to strong unidirectional bottom currents and/or wave action. The high exposure that this habitat experiences prevents the accumulation of organic matter and fine sediments. Coarse sediments provide a wide range of interstitial spaces that constitute a suitable habitat for many invertebrates, mainly carnivores, omnivores and filter feeders.

Bivalves (Spisula subtruncata, Lucinella divaricata, and in some cases Loripes lucinalis) are the most representative group of this habitat type, but infaunal polychaetes are also very abundant (Aonides paucibranchiata, Spio decoratus, Protodorvillea kefersteini, Glycera tesselata, Lumbrinerides acuta, Aponuphis spp., Paradoneis armata and Mediomastus fragilis). The amphipod Siphonoecetes dellavallei is the most frequent crustacean, together with Apseudopsis latreilli, in areas close to Posidonia oceanica meadows. Nematodes are common and abundant mainly in bottoms shallower than 20 m depth. The polychaete Ditrupa arietina is rare at less than 10 m but it can be found within a wide variety of sediments, being more abundant at increasing proportions of coarse material. The bivalves Acanthocardia tuberculata and Callista chione are also characteristic species of this habitat, and constitute an important contribution to the total biomass. Fishes such as the Greater Weever (Trachinus draco), the Spanish Bream (Pagellus acarne), the Striped Seabream (Lithognathus mormyrus) and the Mediterranean Sand Eel (Gymnammodytes cicerelus) are also common in this habitat. A particular fauna assemblage of this habitat is composed by the Amphioxus or Lancelets (Branchiostoma lanceolatum). This “Amphioxus sands” normally extends on gravel and coarse sand with shell fragments.

Indicators of quality:                                                                                                                           

Most of the species included in the habitat description are indicators of good environmental quality. The majority of bivalves are very sensitive to environmental disturbances and changes in the density and structure of these communities might indicate a change on habitat quality.

In general, Branchiostoma lanceolatum communities show a negative correlation between the amphioxus presence and the organic matter content of the habitat, changing also the dominant species with the enrichment in the sediment.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

This is a very poorly studied habitat type and only a few reports exist regarding its distribution at few localities. Moreover, data on trends in quality and quantity are lacking and there is almost no territorial data for most countries. Therefore, this habitat has been assessed as Data Deficient for both the EU 28 and EU 28+.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Data Deficient -
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Data Deficient -

Confidence in the assessment

low
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Biological resource use other than agriculture & forestry
    • Benthic or demersal trawling
  • Pollution
    • Pollution to surface waters by industrial plants
    • Pollution to surface waters by storm overflows
    • Diffuse pollution to surface waters due to household sewage and waste waters
    • Nutrient enrichment (N, P, organic matter)
  • Natural System modifications
    • Dredging/ Removal of limnic sediments
    • Estuarine and coastal dredging

Habitat restoration potential

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 is a lack of information on this habitat type, therefore multiple biodiversity surveys on the distribution and trends (in different seasons and years) of this habitat in the Mediterranean are needed. In addition, monitoring data from different geographical regions will also assist in capturing differences that might occur within the same habitat. A better understanding of the effects of different pressures on the communities that live in this habitat, establishment of protected areas where this habitat occurs and better regulation of exploitation of natural and non-natural resources are also required.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to marine habitats
    • Other marine-related measures
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites
  • Measures related to hunting, taking and fishing and species management
    • Regulation/Management of fishery in marine and brackish systems
  • Measures related to special resouce use
    • Regulating/Managing exploitation of natural resources on sea

Distribution

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 817,044 312 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+ >312 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.
Fishes Gymnammodytes cicerelus
Fishes Lithognathus mormyrus
Fishes Pagellus acarne
Fishes Trachinus draco
Flowering Plants Posidonia oceanica
Invertebrates Acanthocardia tuberculata
Invertebrates Aonides paucibranchiata
Invertebrates Aponuphis bilineata
Invertebrates Aspidosiphon muelleri
Invertebrates Bathyporeia phaiophthalma
Invertebrates Branchiostoma lanceolatum
Invertebrates Caecum trachea
Invertebrates Callista chione
Invertebrates Chamelea gallina
Invertebrates Chone duneri
Invertebrates Diogenes pugilator
Invertebrates Ditrupa arietina
Invertebrates Dosinia lupinus
Invertebrates Ensis minor
Invertebrates Glycera tesselata
Invertebrates Goniadella galaica
Invertebrates Lucinella divaricata
Invertebrates Lumbrinerides acuta
Invertebrates Marphysa bellii
Invertebrates Mediomastus fragilis
Invertebrates Megaluropus massiliensis
Invertebrates Owenia fusiformis
Invertebrates Paradoneis armata
Invertebrates Paradoneis ilvana
Invertebrates Protodorvillea kefersteini
Invertebrates Siphonoecetes dellavallei
Invertebrates Spio decoratus
Invertebrates Spisula subtruncata
Invertebrates Tellina fabula
Invertebrates Thracia papyracea
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Gymnammodytes cicerelus Mediterranean sand eel Fishes
Lithognathus mormyrus Sand steenbras Fishes
Pagellus acarne Auxillary seabream Fishes
Trachinus draco Greater weever Fishes
Posidonia oceanica Flowering Plants
Acanthocardia tuberculata Invertebrates
Aonides paucibranchiata Invertebrates
Aponuphis bilineata Invertebrates
Aspidosiphon muelleri Invertebrates
Bathyporeia phaiophthalma Invertebrates
Branchiostoma lanceolatum Invertebrates
Caecum trachea Invertebrates
Callista chione Invertebrates
Chamelea gallina Invertebrates
Chone duneri Invertebrates
Diogenes pugilator Invertebrates
Ditrupa arietina Invertebrates
Dosinia lupinus Invertebrates
Ensis minor Invertebrates
Glycera tesselata Invertebrates
Goniadella galaica Invertebrates
Lucinella divaricata Invertebrates
Lumbrinerides acuta Invertebrates
Marphysa bellii Invertebrates
Mediomastus fragilis Invertebrates
Megaluropus massiliensis Invertebrates
Owenia fusiformis Invertebrates
Paradoneis armata Invertebrates
Paradoneis ilvana Invertebrates
Protodorvillea kefersteini Invertebrates
Siphonoecetes dellavallei Invertebrates
Spio decoratus Invertebrates
Spisula subtruncata Invertebrates
Tellina fabula Invertebrates
Thracia papyracea Invertebrates

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

Not available
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100