Shallow water habitats account for approx. 50% of the area of the Southeast Rügen Biosphere Reserve. This includes seagrass meadows on sandy substrates, kelp beds on rocks, as well as mud flats in calm bays.
Of the highly complex and ecologically valuable 101,5km of coastline within the reserve, 57,8km are classified as flat coast and 43,7km as steep coast. Even today, the coasts of the reserve are dynamic and are undergoing erosion, transport and deposition. Wave action forms coastal benches at the base of the steep cliffs, after which overhanging sediments and vegetation collapse into the water to be transported away by waves during a subsequent storm. Because lighter sediments are more readily eroded, the beach becomes littered with glacial erratics, boulders and stones. Dunes form downwind of the cliff.
Water currents transport fine sand parallel to the coast only to deposit the sediments as sand spits downwind. Whereas sandy beaches dominate the seaward side of flat coasts, forested sand dunes or bogs are found on the landward side.
Flat and steep coasts also alternate along the bodden shore. Reed beds and salt marshes are found in the flat coast areas.
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