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Definition of Indicator species:
A species whose presence or absence indicates a certain environmental condition or a particular community or habitat.
This is the common definition for Indicator species, other definitions can be discussed in the article


  • Greasewood indicates saline soil;
  • Mosses often indicate acid soil;
  • Tubifex worms indicate oxygen-poor and stagnant water unfit to drink;
  • Ammophila arenaria requires blown sand to thrive and will begin to die back if sheltered from further accommodation. Thus it is a good indicator of sediment supply to the system[1].

[Comment: The last example can be confusing; A. arenaria also occurs on retreating coasts.]

Related articles

Seagrass recovery and restoration in the Wadden Sea
Common starfish can act as a bioindicator for heavy metal pollution
Harbour porpoise in the Belgian part of the North Sea


  1. UK Government 2004. Common Standards Monitoring Guidance for Sand dune Habitats. http://data.jncc.gov.uk/data/7607ac0b-f3d9-4660-9dda-0e538334ed86/CSM-SandDuneHabitats-2004.pdf