Red List habitat classification > RL - Marine habitats > RLNEA - Atlantic > NEAA5.24 Marine Atlantic infralittoral muddy sand

Marine Atlantic infralittoral muddy sand

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code NEAA5.24
Threat status
Europe Near Threatened
EU Near Threatened
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 typically on a substrate of non-cohesive muddy sand (with 5% to 20% silt/clay). It occurs in the infralittoral zone, extending from the extreme lower shore down to more stable circalittoral zone at about 15-20 m. The habitat develops on sheltered shores in fully marine conditions, or occasionally in areas subject to variable salinity. The habitat supports a variety of animal-dominated communities, particularly polychaetes,  bivalves and the urchin Echinocardium cordatum depending on the sediment characteristics and the degree of shelter.  In stable, fine, compacted sands and slightly muddy sands in the infralittoral and littoral fringe, communities occur that are dominated by venerid bivalves. 

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 has a widespread distribution. There are no precise figures on its extent of however a combination of survey data and modelling indicates that it does not have a restricted geographical distribution or occur in only a few locations in the North East Atlantic. Most sedimentary benthic systems on the continental shelf of Europe have been modified by fishing activities, particularly bottom trawls and dredging, in the last 100 years and this habitat remains under fishing pressure. There are signficant data deficiencies however expert opinion is that this habitat should be assesssed as Near Threatened for both the EU 28 and EU 28+ because of both past and likely future declines in quality.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened C/D1
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened C/D1

Confidence in the assessment

medium
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Discharges
    • Disposal of household / Recreational facility waste
    • Disposal of industrial waste
    • Water discharges (with/without contaminants)
  • Biological resource use other than agriculture & forestry
    • Marine and Freshwater Aquaculture
    • Intensive fish farming, intensification
    • Suspension culture
    • Bottom culture
    • Fishing and harvesting aquatic resources
    • Professional active fishing
    • Benthic or demersal trawling
    • Benthic dredging
  • Pollution
    • Marine water pollution
    • Oil spills in the sea

Habitat restoration potential

Meta-analysis of data on fishing impacts on muddy sand communities indicate that the recovery of biota can be measured in years.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Stable Stable
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

Beneficial management measures for this habitat include the regulation of fishing activity which damage or disturb seabed communities, including through the estabishment of marine protected areas. Additionally, appropriate regulation and control of aquaculture effluent and chemical discharges, as well as development control and contingency plans to be followed in the event of a major pollution incident.

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
  • Measures related to urban areas, industry, energy and transport
    • Other measures
    • Urban and industrial waste management

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)
Bay of Biscay and the Iberian Coast Present Unknown Decreasing Unknown
Celtic Seas
Greater North Sea
Macaronesia
Kattegat

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 3,456,649 599 >661 The area estimate for this habitat has been derived from a synthesis of EUNIS seabed habitat geospatial information for the European Seas but is recognised as being an underestimate
EU28+ >599 >661 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.
Invertebrates Arenicola marina
Invertebrates Asterias rubens
Invertebrates Chaetozone setosa
Invertebrates Chamelea gallina
Invertebrates Echinocardium cordatum
Invertebrates Lanice conchilega
Invertebrates Magelona mirabilis
Invertebrates Nephtys hombergii
Invertebrates Spiophanes bombyx
Invertebrates Spisula elliptica
Invertebrates Spisula subtruncata
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Arenicola marina Invertebrates
Asterias rubens Invertebrates
Chaetozone setosa Invertebrates
Chamelea gallina Invertebrates
Echinocardium cordatum Invertebrates
Lanice conchilega Invertebrates
Magelona mirabilis Invertebrates
Nephtys hombergii Invertebrates
Spiophanes bombyx Invertebrates
Spisula elliptica Invertebrates
Spisula subtruncata 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
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