Red List habitat classification > RLE - Grasslands > RLE1.1d Cryptogam- and annual-dominated vegetation on calcareous and ultramafic rock outcrops

Cryptogam- and annual-dominated vegetation on calcareous and ultramafic rock outcrops

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLE1.1d
Threat status
Europe Vulnerable
EU Vulnerable
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)

Summary

This habitat includes low-grown, open herbaceous communities on very shallow, skeletal soils over limestone, dolomite, gypsum, serpentine or other base-rich bedrock types. Short-lived vernal therophytes and succulents are the dominant life forms among the vascular plants. The therophyte synusia is often rich in species, however, it is subject to considerable inter-annual dynamics in total abundance and species composition, which depends on specific weather conditions of each year. Typical therophytes include those of the genera Alyssum, Androsace, Arabis, Arenaria, Cerastium, Erophila, Thlaspi and Veronica. Succulents are represented by various species of Sedum and Sempervivum (including Jovibarba). Geophytes such as Allium are also typical. Perennial grasses and forbs are regularly present in this vegetation, but usually with a low cover.

This habitat is one of the few types in Europe, where non-vascular plants typically reach similar or higher cover and often also higher small-scale species richness than the vascular plants. There are many medium-sized to tiny cushions or lawns of acrocarpous mosses, mainly from the family Pottiaceae. Lichens are represented by several larger lobate or fruticose species, but mainly by soil-covering crusts. These crustose species are often colourful, like Fulgensia spp. (yellow), Psora decipiens (red), Toninia sedifolia (bluish) and Squamarina lentigera (bright white) and form the so-called coloured lichen synusia.

This habitat usually occurs in small patches on rock outcrops or in slightly disturbed places within calcareous grasslands. Disturbance can be by soil erosion on outcrops and steep slopes, by grazing or trampling. The soils are usually very shallow Lithic, Skeletic, Rendzic, Calcaric or Dolomitic Leptosols, developed on various types of limestone, dolomite or gypsum. In some places, especially on the Balkan Peninsula, this vegetation develops also on ultramafic bedrock (serpentines), which are also base-rich, but with an increased amount of Mg2+ rather than Ca2+ cations.

This habitat is distributed from the submediterranean to the hemiboreal zones of Europe. In southern Europe it occurs mainly at higher altitudes, while similar sites at lower altitudes support annual vegetation with different species composition, dominated by Mediterranean annual species. Compared to the rocky grasslands of type E1.1g, which typically cover larger areas on slopes, the stands of E1.1d normally grow in more or less plain patches where the erosion is reduced and thus tiny annuals and cryptogams can survive. While such situations in most parts of Europe occur only as small patches within dry grasslands, the so-called alvars in the hemiboreal zone of Europe (mainly the Swedish islands of Öland and Gotland as well as Western Estonia) display this habitat as landscape-dominating feature, partly extending over many square kilometres as in the Great Alvar of Öland. Here, pre-Cambrian limestone flatrocks that are covered only partly and very thin with fine soil, which is subject to strong frost action in winter, create an extraordinary habitat, rich in specialised species, including even some endemic taxa.

While human land use has slightly increased the spatial extent of this habitat type (through clearing forest and creating artificial rocks, such as wall tops), the majority of stands of E1.1d are natural.

 Indicators of quality:

These grasslands occur at sites disturbed by natural erosion, grazing, or due to human impact such as trampling. Although very frequent or intense disturbance may be detrimental, especially if coupled with nutrient enrichment, slight disturbance is positive because it reduces overgrowing by competitively stronger grasses and herbs. Some occurrences of this habitat, especially those occurring outside rock outcrops or steep slopes, would decline in the absence of disturbance.

The following characteristics can be considered as indicators of good quality:

·      Long-term habitat stability

·      High species richness

·      Occurrence of rare species

·      Dependence on naturally stressful conditions or natural disturbance rather than human-induced disturbance

·      Absence of tall, nutrient-demanding, ruderal and alien species

Characteristic species
For full habitat description, please download the habitat factsheet.

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

Based on a short-term reduction in quantity of 44% and 45%, respectively, the habitat type is Vulnerable (VU) both in EU28 and EU28+. Furthermore, a significant reduction in biotic and abiotic quality in the last 50 years results in a Near threatened status (NT).
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable A1
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable A1

Confidence in the assessment

medium
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Abandonment of pastoral systems, lack of grazing
  • Mining, extraction of materials and energy production
    • Open cast mining
  • Human intrusions and disturbances
    • Mountaineering & rock climbing
  • Pollution
    • Nitrogen-input
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Species composition change (succession)

Habitat restoration potential

Degraded semi-natural (e.g. in former pasture systems) and anthropogenic stands (e.g. wall tops; railway gravel) can be restored by re-installing the former grazing system and/or cutting down woody encroachment inside the habitat and in its surrounding (if it throws shadow on the site).
Natural and and semi-natural sites that have been degraded by quarrying or leisure activities can recover themselves when the negative impact has stopped, but this will take considerable time.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

Generally, continuation of low-intensity grazing is the recommended measure. However, the majority of stands is rather stable also without management.

List of conservation and management needs

  • No measures
    • No measures needed for the conservation of the habitat/species
  • Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
    • Maintaining grasslands and other open habitats

Distribution

For each habitat a distribution map was produced from a wide variety of sources indicating known and potential occurrences of the habitat in 10x10 km grids within Europe. Occurrences in grid cells were given in two classes: actual distribution from relatively reliable sources (surveys, expert knowledge), and potential distribution based on models or less reliable indicators. Please download the fact sheet to see the map.

Geographic occurrence and trends

EU28 Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Austria Present 1.2 Decreasing Decreasing
Belgium Present 0.55 Decreasing Decreasing
Bulgaria Present 31 Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present 0.7 Stable Stable
Cyprus Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Czech Republic Present 0.5 Decreasing Decreasing
Denmark Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
Estonia Present 1 Unknown Unknown
Finland mainland Present 0.5 Decreasing Decreasing
Aland Islands Present 0.5 Decreasing Decreasing
France mainland Present 100 Decreasing Decreasing
Corsica Uncertain 100 Decreasing Decreasing
Germany Present 5 Decreasing Decreasing
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present 191 Decreasing Unknown
Crete Uncertain 191 Decreasing Unknown
Hungary Present 0.5 Stable Stable
Ireland Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Italy mainland Present 138 Decreasing Stable
Sardinia Uncertain 138 Decreasing Stable
Sicily Uncertain 138 Decreasing Stable
Latvia Present 0.01 Decreasing Unknown
Lithuania Present 0.05 Decreasing Unknown
Luxembourg Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Malta Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Netherlands Present 0.001 Unknown Decreasing
Poland Present 0.45 Decreasing Decreasing
Portugal mainland Present 5.4 Unknown Decreasing
Portugal Azores Uncertain 5.4 Unknown Decreasing
Madeira Uncertain 5.4 Unknown Decreasing
Romania Present 0.5 Unknown Stable
Slovakia Present 0.36 Stable Decreasing
Slovenia Present 0.2 Stable Stable
Spain mainland Present 123 Unknown Stable
Balearic Islands Uncertain 123 Unknown Stable
Canary Islands Uncertain 123 Unknown Stable
Sweden Present 26 Unknown Stable
United Kingdom Present 0.5 Unknown Decreasing
Northern Island Uncertain 0.5 Unknown Decreasing
Gibraltar Uncertain 0.5 Unknown Decreasing
EU28 + Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Albania Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Andorra Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 30 Decreasing Decreasing
Guernsey Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Isle of Man Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Jersey Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Kaliningrad Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Kosovo Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Liechtestein Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Monaco Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Montenegro Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Norway Mainland Present Unknown Unknown Unknown
San Marino Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Serbia Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown
Switzerland Present 5 Decreasing Decreasing
Vatican City Uncertain Unknown Unknown Unknown

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 6658750 3605 680 Provided areas for Sweden and Estonia were clearly too low
EU28+ 4008 800
AOO = the area occupied by a habitat measured in number of 10x10 km grid cells.
EOO = the area (km2) of the envelope around all occurrences of a habitat (calculated by a minimum convex polygon).

Characteristic species

The full list of characteristic species and genus are available above from the Summary. The species available in the EUNIS database are shown here.
Flowering Plants Acinos arvensis
Flowering Plants Aethionema saxatile
Flowering Plants Allium schoenoprasum
Flowering Plants Allium sphaerocephalon
Flowering Plants Alyssum alyssoides
Flowering Plants Androsace elongata
Flowering Plants Androsace septentrionalis
Flowering Plants Arabidopsis thaliana
Flowering Plants Arabis auriculata
Flowering Plants Arenaria leptoclados
Flowering Plants Arenaria serpyllifolia
Flowering Plants Artemisia rupestris
Flowering Plants Asperula tenella
Flowering Plants Cerastium brachypetalum
Flowering Plants Cerastium pumilum
Flowering Plants Erophila spathulata
Flowering Plants Erophila verna
Flowering Plants Festuca oelandica
Flowering Plants Galium oelandicum
Flowering Plants Globularia vulgaris
Flowering Plants Gypsophila fastigiata
Flowering Plants Hieracium x dichotomum
Flowering Plants Holosteum umbellatum
Flowering Plants Hornungia petraea
Flowering Plants Jovibarba globifera
Flowering Plants Medicago minima
Flowering Plants Minuartia mesogitana
Flowering Plants Petrorhagia saxifraga
Flowering Plants Poa bulbosa
Flowering Plants Poa compressa
Flowering Plants Poa perconcinna
Flowering Plants Potentilla argentea
Flowering Plants Potentilla tabernaemontani
Flowering Plants Saxifraga tridactylites
Flowering Plants Sedum acre
Flowering Plants Sedum album
Flowering Plants Sedum sediforme
Flowering Plants Sedum sexangulare
Flowering Plants Sisymbrium supinum
Flowering Plants Thlaspi ochroleucum
Flowering Plants Thlaspi perfoliatum
Flowering Plants Trigonella monspeliaca
Flowering Plants Valeriana tuberosa
Flowering Plants Valerianella locusta
Flowering Plants Veronica arvensis
Flowering Plants Veronica praecox
Fungi Cladonia convoluta
Fungi Cladonia foliacea
Fungi Cladonia furcata
Fungi Cladonia pocillum
Fungi Cladonia rangiformis
Fungi Cladonia symphycarpia
Mosses & Liverworts Abietinella abietina
Mosses & Liverworts Barbula convoluta
Mosses & Liverworts Bryum caespiticium
Mosses & Liverworts Bryum elegans
Mosses & Liverworts Ceratodon purpureus
Mosses & Liverworts Didymodon fallax
Mosses & Liverworts Didymodon ferrugineus
Mosses & Liverworts Didymodon rigidulus
Mosses & Liverworts Distichium capillaceum
Mosses & Liverworts Ditrichum flexicaule
Mosses & Liverworts Encalypta rhaptocarpa
Mosses & Liverworts Encalypta streptocarpa
Mosses & Liverworts Encalypta vulgaris
Mosses & Liverworts Homalothecium sericeum
Mosses & Liverworts Syntrichia ruralis
Mosses & Liverworts Tortella inclinata
Mosses & Liverworts Tortella rigens
Mosses & Liverworts Tortella tortuosa
Mosses & Liverworts Trichostomum crispulum
Mosses & Liverworts Weissia brachycarpa
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Acinos arvensis Flowering Plants
Aethionema saxatile Flowering Plants
Allium schoenoprasum Flowering Plants
Allium sphaerocephalon Flowering Plants
Alyssum alyssoides Flowering Plants
Androsace elongata Flowering Plants
Androsace septentrionalis Flowering Plants
Arabidopsis thaliana Flowering Plants
Arabis auriculata Flowering Plants
Arenaria leptoclados Flowering Plants
Arenaria serpyllifolia Flowering Plants
Artemisia rupestris Flowering Plants
Asperula tenella Flowering Plants
Cerastium brachypetalum Flowering Plants
Cerastium pumilum Flowering Plants
Erophila spathulata Flowering Plants
Erophila verna Flowering Plants
Festuca oelandica Flowering Plants
Galium oelandicum Flowering Plants
Globularia vulgaris Flowering Plants
Gypsophila fastigiata Flowering Plants
Hieracium x dichotomum Flowering Plants
Holosteum umbellatum Flowering Plants
Hornungia petraea Flowering Plants
Jovibarba globifera Flowering Plants
Medicago minima Flowering Plants
Minuartia mesogitana Flowering Plants
Petrorhagia saxifraga Flowering Plants
Poa bulbosa Flowering Plants
Poa compressa Flowering Plants
Poa perconcinna Flowering Plants
Potentilla argentea Flowering Plants
Potentilla tabernaemontani Flowering Plants
Saxifraga tridactylites Flowering Plants
Sedum acre Flowering Plants
Sedum album Flowering Plants
Sedum sediforme Flowering Plants
Sedum sexangulare Flowering Plants
Sisymbrium supinum Flowering Plants
Thlaspi ochroleucum Flowering Plants
Thlaspi perfoliatum Flowering Plants
Trigonella monspeliaca Flowering Plants
Valeriana tuberosa Flowering Plants
Valerianella locusta Flowering Plants
Veronica arvensis Flowering Plants
Veronica praecox Flowering Plants
Cladonia convoluta Fungi
Cladonia foliacea Fungi
Cladonia furcata Fungi
Cladonia pocillum Fungi
Cladonia rangiformis Fungi
Cladonia symphycarpia Fungi
Abietinella abietina Mosses & Liverworts
Barbula convoluta Mosses & Liverworts
Bryum caespiticium Mosses & Liverworts
Bryum elegans Mosses & Liverworts
Ceratodon purpureus Mosses & Liverworts
Didymodon fallax Mosses & Liverworts
Didymodon ferrugineus Mosses & Liverworts
Didymodon rigidulus Mosses & Liverworts
Distichium capillaceum Mosses & Liverworts
Ditrichum flexicaule Mosses & Liverworts
Encalypta rhaptocarpa Mosses & Liverworts
Encalypta streptocarpa Mosses & Liverworts
Encalypta vulgaris Mosses & Liverworts
Homalothecium sericeum Mosses & Liverworts
Syntrichia ruralis Mosses & Liverworts
Tortella inclinata Mosses & Liverworts
Tortella rigens Mosses & Liverworts
Tortella tortuosa Mosses & Liverworts
Trichostomum crispulum Mosses & Liverworts
Weissia brachycarpa Mosses & Liverworts

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

Not available
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Denmark
Phone: +45 3336 7100