Red List habitat classification > RL - Marine habitats > RLMED - Mediterranean > MEDA5.23 Faunal communities in Mediterranean infralittoral fine sand

Faunal communities in Mediterranean infralittoral fine sand

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code MEDA5.23
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 habitat is formed on clean sands of shallow waters (between 4 and 25 m depth) on open coasts, subjected to moderate wave action, which allows for the accumulation of organic matter and fine sediments (<63 µm). These bottoms are dominated by deposit feeders, but filter feeders and carnivores are also present. Invertebrate assemblages found in this habitat correspond to those described as 'Littoral Fine Sand assemblages' (dominated by Spisula subtruncata), but are very close to muddy assemblages (Littoral Sandy Mud and Terrigenous Coastal Mud). Although this habitat typically lacks a significant seaweed or seagrass component, the presence of Cymodocea nodosa or Posidonia oceanica is frequent.

Several sub-habitats have been described. These are a sub-habitat of Spisula subtruncata, characterized by the bivalves Spisula subtruncata and Lucinella divaricate; a sub-habitat of Nephthys hombergii which is a transitional assemblage to circalittoral habitats;and a sub-habitat with Lentidium mediterraneum which is commonly associated to sandy flat areas shallower than 4 m depth, in estuaries and embayments.

Indicators of quality:

Most of the species included in the description of the habitat are bioindicators of environmental quality. The majority of bivalves are very sensitive to eutrophication and population changes in abundance and composition might indicate a change on habitat quality.


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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

This is a widespread habitat in the Mediterranean Sea, however there is very little information on its distribution, impacts and reductions in quantity and quality. The habitat has a large Extent of Occurrence (EOO) and Area of Occupancy (AOO), and therefore qualifies as Least Concern under Criterion B. However, the habitat is assessed as Data Deficient for both the EU 28 and the EU 28+ because of a lack of information on its 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

  • Biological resource use other than agriculture & forestry
    • Intensive fish farming, intensification
    • Suspension culture
    • Bottom culture
    • Benthic dredging
  • Pollution
    • Pollution to surface waters (limnic, terrestrial, marine & brackish)
    • Pollution to surface waters by industrial plants
    • Nutrient enrichment (N, P, organic matter)

Habitat restoration potential

In high-energy environments where this habitat occurs, the impact of human activities may be considered transitory and negligible and therefore recovery might be relatively fast.

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 no current specific conservation actions in place for this habitat. The broad distribution of this habitat makes it likely to occur in protected areas, however detailed information is missing. A wide survey to assess the distribution of this habitat is needed in order to better evaluate its conservation and management. The designation of reference sites for long monitoring trends and the continuation of those already existing will assist to examine the trends in this habitat.
Moreover, improving spatial and strategic planning of human activities, in particular to promote the wiser use of habitats where there are competing demands (e.g. fishing, sand and gravel extraction) is necessary in order to ensure the good conservation status of this habitat in the Mediterranean Sea.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to marine habitats
    • Other marine-related measures
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Other marine-related measures
  • Measures related to hunting, taking and fishing and species management
    • Regulation/Management of fishery in marine and brackish systems


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 >50,000 892 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+ >50 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
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