Study aims

The objective of this report is to summarise and review the available information on ‘Intertidal mudflats and sandbanks’ and ‘Subtidal mobile sandbanks’. The report is one of nine which aim to review the dynamics and sensitivity of ‘biotope complexes’ and link these to the habitats defined in the EU Habitats and Species Directive. The present report has brought these two biotope complexes together because of their common features and because an understanding of sedimentary systems is common to both. Distinctions between these sedimentary biotope complexes are discussed where necessary but the report focuses on the fundamental environmental and biological attributes of the overall sedimentary system. It indicates the sensitivity of these biotope complexes to natural and human-induced changes, and gives options for monitoring the important features that are relevant to the management of key aspects of these complexes.

The report is oriented around the following principles and logic:

  • that physical environmental features create the fundamental structuring characteristics;
  • once these are created, niches are available in which the biological community will be allowed to develop;
  • the most important common feature in maintaining the integrity of the biotope complexes is their dependence on erosion and accretion processes and the hydrophysical regime required to maintain conditions such as sediment type;
  • once the biological community has developed, it is necessary to consider the biological mediating phenomena, such as predator-prey relationships, and the ways in which the biota can modify the sedimentary environment, e.g. by bioturbation;
  • then it is necessary to give the features defining the sensitivity of the biotope complexes to natural and anthropogenic changes;
  • then it is necessary to consider the environmental and biological attributes of the systems for monitoring and surveillance; and
  • finally, within this structure, it is necessary to indicate the strategies and procedures for management.

Nature and distribution of the biotope complexes

Linkages to other habitats

The importance of the biotope complexes

Status of biotopes in biotope classifications