Terrestrial habitat types

Terrestrial or land habitat types refer to non-aquatic natural habitats located inland from the coastline. Geothermal fields are classified separately and receive special attention. Many different types of terrestrial habitats are found in Iceland, with a varying level of vegetation cover. Many of them are subject to relatively minor human disturbance and can largely be defined as natural or semi-natural. These habitat types range from mire fens to parched lava fields, from bare gravelly flats to thriving birch forests, from high-temperature geothermal fields to glaciers, and from lowlands to mountain peaks.

In defining and classifying terrestrial habitat types in Iceland, a range of field measurements were taken, such as: percent cover of all plants; total vascular plant, moss, and lichen cover; cover of individual vascular plant species; vegetation height; soil depth; and soil carbon and pH. A total of 64 terrestrial habitat types have been defined for Iceland. These are grouped into 12 main categories or habitat type classes. Four anthropogenic habitat types are also described, as well as glaciers and unvegetated ice-dominated moraines.

Fact sheets

Habitat types are concisely described on fact sheets, which provide information on their appearance and their main features. They give both the Icelandic name for the habitat type and the corresponding English term under the EUNIS classification system. For new habitat types not covered under the EUNIS system, the proposed Icelandic and English names are given.

Fact sheets on non-geothermal habitat types provide a description of the soil and statistical information on several variables, including total plant cover; vascular plant, moss, and lichen cover; vegetation height; species richness; land slope; surface rocks; soil depth; and soil pH and carbon. Fact sheets also contain a list of the dominant vascular plant, moss and lichen species or species groups. Characteristic species of the habitat type are also mentioned if present. Similar habitat types are also listed, with links to the fact sheets for these types. Information is provided on the most common bird species found in the habitat type in question, if available.

Fact sheets on geothermal habitat types provide a description of the soil and statistical information on soil temperature, dominant plant species, and species richness of vascular plants, mosses and lichens within that habitat type. The fact sheets list geothermal vascular plant species (species restricted to areas of geothermal heat) and thermophilic vascular plants (species that do grow in cold ground but have greatly increased cover in geothermal areas).

All habitat type descriptions are accompanied by two photographs that are representative for the appearance of the habitat type. The rough distribution of the habitat type is shown on a basic 10x10 km grid square map. A more detailed map can be accessed in the map viewer. The total estimated area of the habitat type in Iceland is also given on the fact sheet, together with an assessment of its conservation value (from low to very high). The total area of geothermal habitat types is not known with certainty, meaning that an accurate total cannot be given in the fact sheets for these habitats.

Fact sheets (in Icelandic, with some information in English)

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