Biodiversity & Conservation

Pioneer saltmarsh.



Image Steve Morris - LMU.Sm e.g. Salicornia sp. pioneer saltmarsh Image width ca 5 m in foreground.
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Distribution map

LS.LMp.Sm recorded (dark blue bullet) and expected (light blue bullet) distribution in Britain and Ireland (see below)

  • EC_Habitats
  • UK_BAP

For a list of 2004 characterising species please see the JNCC website.

Species indicative of sensitivity

To assess the sensitivity of the biotope, the sensitivity of component species is reviewed. Those species that are considered to be particularly indicative of the sensitivity of the biotope, and for which research has been undertaken in detail are shown below (see selection criteria). The biology of other component species of the biotope is also taken into account wherever information is known to the researcher.


Pioneer saltmarsh biotope complex (LMU.Sm) is comprised of 8 recognised plant communities (e.g. LMU.NVC_SM13). Therefore, key and important species have not been suggested in this general review.

Additional information

Saltmarsh communities are generally regarded as species poor habitats. However, this statement generally refers to the vascular plant communities alone. The dynamic and heterogeneous saltmarsh habits and their plant communities support a diverse array of marine and terrestrial invertebrates, microalgae, cyanobacteria, fungi, fish, birds and in some cases mammals (including livestock). For examples of species found in saltmarsh habitats refer to reviews by Long & Mason (1983), Adam (1993) and Packham & Willis (1997) and the references therein.
Saltmarsh habitats support a number of rare or scarce plant species, together with some UK BAP species e.g. the ground beetles Arnara strenua and Anisodactylus poeciloides, the natterjack toad Bufo calamita, eyebrights e.g. Euphrasia heslop-harrisonii, and the red data book species Vertigo angustior, the narrow mouthed whorl snail (Anon, 1999n).

This review can be cited as follows:

Tyler-Walters, H. 2001. Pioneer saltmarsh.. Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Sub-programme [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. [cited 29/11/2015]. Available from: <>