Red List habitat classification > RL - Marine habitats > RLMED - Mediterranean > MEDA5.39 Communities of Mediterranean infralittoral (coastal) terrigenous muds

Communities of Mediterranean infralittoral (coastal) terrigenous muds

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code MEDA5.39
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)


The sediment that conforms this habitat is always pure mud, more or less clayey, almost always derived from the erosion of rocks on land carried to sea by rivers (of fluvial origin). Such coarse debris is quickly covered with no epifauna developing as a result. In sheltered areas, this habitat is characterized by associations with Cymodocea nodosa, Zostera noltii and Caulerpa prolifera.

Indicators of quality:

Standard biotic and abiotic indicators have been used to describe marine habitat quality, but the presence and abundance of characteristic species can also be used as an indicator of habitat quality.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

This habitat is directly subject to various anthropogenic impacts resulting from urban, industrial, agricultural, aquaculture and other coastal activities such as fishing and the use of bottom towed fishing gears in particular. The latter is particularly widespread in the Mediterranean Sea, recent analysis showing it to be most extensive and of highest intensity in the Adriatic Sea. Many studies also show that combined impacts of urbanization, fisheries, aquaculture and sedimentation lead to a shift in associated assemblages. Declines in quality over the last 50 years cannot be quanitified but expert opinion is that this is likely to have been fairly substantial. This habitat has therefore been assessed as Near Threatened under criteria C/D for the EU 28 and EU 28+.
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened C/D1
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened C/D1

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Use of biocides, hormones and chemicals
    • Fertilisation
  • Urbanisation, residential and commercial development
    • Urbanised areas, human habitation
    • Industrial or commercial areas
    • Discharges
  • Biological resource use other than agriculture & forestry
    • Marine and Freshwater Aquaculture
    • Fishing and harvesting aquatic resources
  • Pollution
    • Pollution to surface waters (limnic, terrestrial, marine & brackish)
    • Marine water pollution
    • Soil pollution and solid waste (excluding discharges)

Habitat restoration potential

Recovery may be extremely slow because of the stable (nondynamic) conditions that prevail in this biotope.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

Basic knowledge on this habitat, the associated assemblages/species biology (distribution, abundance, habitat preferences, life-cycles), its distribution in the Mediterranean and any trends are needed. Spatial planning in general, and strategic planning of particular human activities are needed for the conservation of this habitat when there are competing demands. Designation of Protected Areas is also recommended. In areas where the habitat is affected, it is recommended to reduce anthropogenic waste, particularly domestic and industrial wastewater that is still loaded with fine matter, pollutants and organic matter.
Fisheries legislation for this whole zone exists but precise management measures aimed at this particular habitat are not in place. Direct engagement of stakeholders in the planning of the management process, analysis of social and economic costs and benefits of different management options, will be essential for the successful implementation of conservation actions.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to wetland, freshwater and coastal habitats
    • Restoring/Improving water quality
    • Restoring coastal areas
  • Measures related to marine habitats
    • Restoring marine habitats
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites
    • Legal protection of habitats and species
  • 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
    • Urban and industrial waste management
    • Managing marine traffic


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 >50,000 Unknown Unknown This habitat is present in all the Mediterranean sub-basins.
EU28+ Unknown Unknown This habitat is present in all the Mediterranean sub-basins.
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