Red List habitat classification > RLE - Grasslands > RLE1.1e Perennial rocky grassland of the Italian Peninsula

Perennial rocky grassland of the Italian Peninsula

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLE1.1e
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 endemic habitat includes open grasslands with participation of dwarf shrubs, occurring in the interior of the Italian Peninsula. Both in their structure and floristic composition they are transitional between the Temperate dry grasslands and Mediterranean garigues. Hemicryptophytes (including perennial grasses and herbs) predominate, but dwarf shrubs and other chamaephytes are also common. Hemicryptophytes usually prevail on gentle slopes, where vegetation tends to be denser, while chamaephytes are more common on steeper slopes. Therophytes and geophytes also occur in this vegetation, especially in disturbed places, but they are not dominant. A certain number of endemic taxa is typically represented in this habitat type.

These grasslands are developed from the supra-Mediterranean to the meso-Temperate bioclimatic belts, with their optimum in the latter and in its sub-Mediterranean variant. In most cases it is secondary vegetation developed in potential habitats for deciduous forests with Quercus cerris, Q. pubescens s.l., Ostrya carpinifolia, or for mixed forests with Quercus ilex. Soils are shallow, developed usually in patches between rocky outcrops. They belong to the type of Lithic, Skeletic, Rendzic, Calcaric or Dolomitic Leptosols. Parent rocks are various calcareous sediments including limestones.

These dry grasslands are confined to the Italian Peninsula, where their range extends from the Northern to the Southern Apennines including some occurrences in Sicily. They are generally species-rich, and dependent for their long-term conservation on grazing by domestic livestock. Cessation of grazing may lead to encroachment of shrubs and trees and decline of this habitat type. In some areas the habitat was destroyed by plantation of trees, especially pines. A specific subtype of this vegetation belonging to the alliance Alyssion bertolonii, with unique species composition and a rich chamaephytic component, occurs on neutral or basic soils of serpentine outcrops and ophiolithic substrata with neutral or alkaline pH, with a distribution restricted to Tuscany, Liguria and Piedmont (Northern Apennines).

Indicators of good quality:

• Long-term habitat openness

• No encroachment of shrubs and trees

• Extensive grazing

• High species richness

• Occurrence of rare and endemic species

• 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

The habitat is assigned to the category Vulnerable (VU) both in EU28 and EU28+, based on a strong reduction in abiotic and/or biotic quality (Criteria C/D1). In spite of a remarkable quantitative decrease, the assessment based on Criteria A and B did not meet the thresholds qualifying for higher threat levels. Indeed, although endemic to a country, due to a scattered distribution along the Italian Peninsula the EOO and the AOO resulted rather wide. A continuous future qualitative reduction can realistically be expected, mainly due to the ongoing abandonment and the related successional processes, with drastic changes in structure and floristic composition. Considering its endemicity and the lack of complete data about past distribution and trends, a careful monitoring should be carried out in the future to prevent further loss of a landscape-shaping and species-rich habitat type.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable C/D1
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Vulnerable C/D1

Confidence in the assessment

medium
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Modification of cultivation practices
    • Agricultural intensification
    • Grazing
    • Abandonment of pastoral systems, lack of grazing
  • Sylviculture, forestry
    • Forest planting on open ground
  • Invasive, other problematic species and genes
    • Invasive non-native species
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Biocenotic evolution, succession
  • Climate change
    • Changes in abiotic conditions

Habitat restoration potential

This habitat is typically represented by semi-natural plant communities, depending on traditional land-use practices for their maintainance. Once destroyed or severely damaged, e.g. due to the recolonization by the shrub-dominated vegetation, their recovery would need a drastic removal of the shrub and tree species and the re-introduction of traditional pastoral systems with extensive grazing. However, these are extremely delicate processes which might give good results only on the medium-long term.

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

The maintenance and promotion of traditional pastoral systems, also by way of financial support, is an essential tool for the conservation of this habitat type. The widespread abandonment that took place in the Apennines starting from the 60s, strongly affecting this habitat distribution and floristic composition, was obviously due to a lack of profit and to a deep change in the economy of Italy. Nowadays, a new evaluation of the importance of the traditional pastoral systems as nature conservation instruments and as opportunities for high-quality local productions can offer a spur for a repopulation of the marginal lands in the mountains, however it is currently acting only on a very limited scale.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
    • Maintaining grasslands and other open habitats
  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites
    • Legal protection of habitats and species
    • Manage landscape features

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)
Italy mainland Present 643 Decreasing Decreasing
Sicily Present 643 Decreasing Decreasing
Sardinia Uncertain 643 Decreasing 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)

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 142250 795 643
EU28+ 795 643
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 Alyssoides utriculata
Flowering Plants Alyssum bertolonii
Flowering Plants Alyssum diffusum
Flowering Plants Anthyllis vulneraria subsp. praepropera
Flowering Plants Armeria denticulata
Flowering Plants Artemisia alba
Flowering Plants Asperula aristata subsp. scabra
Flowering Plants Asperula purpurea
Flowering Plants Asphodeline lutea
Flowering Plants Bromus erectus
Flowering Plants Centaurea ambigua
Flowering Plants Centaurea aplolepa subsp. ligustica
Flowering Plants Centaurea rupestris
Flowering Plants Centaurea triumfetti
Flowering Plants Cephalaria leucantha
Flowering Plants Convolvulus cantabrica
Flowering Plants Coronilla valentina
Flowering Plants Crepis lacera
Flowering Plants Cytisus spinescens
Flowering Plants Dianthus ciliatus
Flowering Plants Eryngium amethystinum
Flowering Plants Erysimum pseudorhaeticum
Flowering Plants Euphorbia myrsinites
Flowering Plants Euphorbia spinosa
Flowering Plants Festuca inops
Flowering Plants Festuca robustifolia
Flowering Plants Genista desoleana
Flowering Plants Genista januensis
Flowering Plants Globularia bisnagarica
Flowering Plants Globularia meridionalis
Flowering Plants Helianthemum oelandicum
Flowering Plants Hippocrepis glauca
Flowering Plants Hyssopus officinalis subsp. aristatus
Flowering Plants Inula montana
Flowering Plants Iris pseudopumila
Flowering Plants Jurinea mollis
Flowering Plants Koeleria splendens
Flowering Plants Matthiola fruticulosa
Flowering Plants Ostrya carpinifolia
Flowering Plants Osyris alba
Flowering Plants Phleum ambiguum
Flowering Plants Phlomis fruticosa
Flowering Plants Pimpinella saxifraga
Flowering Plants Plantago holosteum
Flowering Plants Quercus cerris
Flowering Plants Quercus ilex
Flowering Plants Rhamnus saxatilis subsp. infectoria
Flowering Plants Ruta graveolens
Flowering Plants Salvia officinalis
Flowering Plants Satureja montana
Flowering Plants Scorzonera villosa subsp. columnae
Flowering Plants Silene otites
Flowering Plants Teucrium polium
Flowering Plants Thymus longicaulis
Flowering Plants Thymus striatus
Flowering Plants Thymus vulgaris
Flowering Plants Trinia glauca
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Alyssoides utriculata Flowering Plants
Alyssum bertolonii Flowering Plants
Alyssum diffusum Flowering Plants
Anthyllis vulneraria subsp. praepropera Flowering Plants
Armeria denticulata Flowering Plants
Artemisia alba Flowering Plants
Asperula aristata subsp. scabra Flowering Plants
Asperula purpurea Flowering Plants
Asphodeline lutea Flowering Plants
Bromus erectus Flowering Plants
Centaurea ambigua Flowering Plants
Centaurea aplolepa subsp. ligustica Flowering Plants
Centaurea rupestris Flowering Plants
Centaurea triumfetti Flowering Plants
Cephalaria leucantha Flowering Plants
Convolvulus cantabrica Flowering Plants
Coronilla valentina Flowering Plants
Crepis lacera Flowering Plants
Cytisus spinescens Flowering Plants
Dianthus ciliatus Flowering Plants
Eryngium amethystinum Flowering Plants
Erysimum pseudorhaeticum Flowering Plants
Euphorbia myrsinites Flowering Plants
Euphorbia spinosa Flowering Plants
Festuca inops Flowering Plants
Festuca robustifolia Flowering Plants
Genista desoleana Flowering Plants
Genista januensis Flowering Plants
Globularia bisnagarica Flowering Plants
Globularia meridionalis Flowering Plants
Helianthemum oelandicum Flowering Plants
Hippocrepis glauca Flowering Plants
Hyssopus officinalis subsp. aristatus Flowering Plants
Inula montana Flowering Plants
Iris pseudopumila Flowering Plants
Jurinea mollis Flowering Plants
Koeleria splendens Flowering Plants
Matthiola fruticulosa Flowering Plants
Ostrya carpinifolia Flowering Plants
Osyris alba Flowering Plants
Phleum ambiguum Flowering Plants
Phlomis fruticosa Flowering Plants
Pimpinella saxifraga Flowering Plants
Plantago holosteum Flowering Plants
Quercus cerris Flowering Plants
Quercus ilex Flowering Plants
Rhamnus saxatilis subsp. infectoria Flowering Plants
Ruta graveolens Flowering Plants
Salvia officinalis Flowering Plants
Satureja montana Flowering Plants
Scorzonera villosa subsp. columnae Flowering Plants
Silene otites Flowering Plants
Teucrium polium Flowering Plants
Thymus longicaulis Flowering Plants
Thymus striatus Flowering Plants
Thymus vulgaris Flowering Plants
Trinia glauca Flowering Plants

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

This habitat may be equivalent to, or broather than, or narrower than the habitats or ecosystems in the following typologies.
Classification Code Habitat type name Relationship type
EUNIS Habitat Classification 200711 E1.1 Inland sand and rock with open vegetation narrower
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