Red List habitat classification > RLE - Grasslands > RLE1.5a Iberian oromediterranean siliceous dry grassland

Iberian oromediterranean siliceous dry grassland

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLE1.5a
Threat status
Europe Near Threatened
EU Near Threatened
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)

Summary

Dwarf grasslands growing in alpine (crioro) and upper subalpine (oro) environment at elevations above 1900 m in siliceous mountains in Mediterranean Iberian Peninsula, from the Cantabrian range in the NW to Sierra Nevada in the SE. Conditions are extreme in such altitudes, and include low temperatures, a short growing season in which solar irradiation is very high and rainfall can be low, combined with a high wind exposure. Strong wind sweeps the snow preventing from being accumulated. The removal of the protective snow layer in winter exacerbates drought by enhancing evaporation and also entails an important abrasion and mechanical pressure. Due to the extreme cold and dryness, those grasslands have been qualified as psychro-xerophilous. They occupy crests and slopes in which snow cover is shallow, avoiding depressions where it accumulates. Phenomena of cryoturbation and solifluxion are common in the soils, which are leptosols, lithosols or distric cambisols without histic, gleic and hydromorphic properties. The plants are dwarf or prostrated, with hard tissues to endure wind abrasion and drought. The grasses, particularly the Festuca species, have hard leaves with sclerenchyma bundles that give way to a low palatable or even indigestive pasture (revientabarrigas). Cover can be complete (ca 100%) to intermediate (40-50%) or low depending on extreme conditions, slope and solifluxion incidence. Succession towards tall vegetation types is prevented by extreme environmental conditions in the higher altitudes, where those grasslands are the Potential Natural Vegetation. Grazing, usually by sheep, is restricted to a short growing season and its impact used to be low.

The majority of the species are Iberian endemics, often restricted to one of the mountain groups and particularly abundant in Sierra Nevada.

Indicators of good quality:

  • The grassland should be dominated by grasses (Festuca sp. pl.), grass-like species (Luzula sp. pl.) and other herbaceous plants, having few ligneous plants.
  • A medium to high vegetation cover
  • Absence of nitrophilic species linked to human activities
  • No visible anthropic disturbances due to building activities, skying or intensive trampling

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 Near Threatened (NT). Over the last 50 years it has not substantially decreased in quantity nor in quality and its AOO and EOO are quite large. However, being restricted to the highest summits of siliceous mountains on the Iberian peninsula, it is assumed to suffer from climate change, and therefore the corresponding Annex 1 habitat 6160 has been assessed as Unfavourable Bad (U2) for its "future prospects". It means that a large part of the habitat (80-100%) will have at least a slight to moderate severe quality decline in the near future. For this reason, the habitat is considered (at least) Near Threatened under criterion C/D2.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened C/D2
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Near Threatened C/D2

Confidence in the assessment

medium
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Human intrusions and disturbances
    • Mountaineering, rock climbing, speleology
    • Skiing, off-piste
    • Skiing complex
  • Climate change
    • Changes in abiotic conditions
    • Changes in biotic conditions

Habitat restoration potential

The extreme climatic conditions, with low temperatues and very dry conditions, make it very difficult the recovery of the habitat once it has been seriously damaged. If damage is related to soil erosion due to intense trampling, the habitat needs a long time to recover, which can be facilitated through human intervention. If damage is related to climate change and consequent invasion of species from lower altitudes, the diagnostic species will dissapear in the long term and thus future recovery of the habitat will not be possible.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Stable Stable
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Stable Stable
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

The conservation of this habitat involves the minimization of the impact of leisure activities and the disturbance they create in the ecosystem, as this disturbance can facilitate the arrival of ruderal species, which is also possible due to changing climatic conditions.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites
    • Legal protection of habitats and species

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)
Spain mainland Present 374 Decreasing Stable
Portugal mainland Present 3.8 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)

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 360700 500 378
EU28+ 500 378
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 Armeria caespitosa
Flowering Plants Armeria duriaei
Flowering Plants Artemisia granatensis
Flowering Plants Dianthus langeanus
Flowering Plants Erigeron frigidus
Flowering Plants Eryngium glaciale
Flowering Plants Festuca clementei
Flowering Plants Festuca pseudeskia
Flowering Plants Herniaria boissieri
Flowering Plants Hieracium vahlii
Flowering Plants Jasione amethystina
Flowering Plants Jasione brevisepala
Flowering Plants Leontodon cantabricus
Flowering Plants Leucanthemopsis flaveola
Flowering Plants Luzula caespitosa
Flowering Plants Luzula hispanica
Flowering Plants Potentilla nevadensis
Flowering Plants Senecio boissieri
Flowering Plants Sideritis glacialis
Flowering Plants Silene elegans
Flowering Plants Teesdaliopsis conferta
Flowering Plants Trisetum glaciale
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Armeria caespitosa Flowering Plants
Armeria duriaei Flowering Plants
Artemisia granatensis Flowering Plants
Dianthus langeanus Flowering Plants
Erigeron frigidus Flowering Plants
Eryngium glaciale Flowering Plants
Festuca clementei Flowering Plants
Festuca pseudeskia Flowering Plants
Herniaria boissieri Flowering Plants
Hieracium vahlii Flowering Plants
Jasione amethystina Flowering Plants
Jasione brevisepala Flowering Plants
Leontodon cantabricus Flowering Plants
Leucanthemopsis flaveola Flowering Plants
Luzula caespitosa Flowering Plants
Luzula hispanica Flowering Plants
Potentilla nevadensis Flowering Plants
Senecio boissieri Flowering Plants
Sideritis glacialis Flowering Plants
Silene elegans Flowering Plants
Teesdaliopsis conferta Flowering Plants
Trisetum glaciale 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 E1.5 Mediterranean-montane grassland narrower
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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