Red List habitat classification > RLE - Grasslands > RLE4.3b Temperate acidophilous alpine grassland

Temperate acidophilous alpine grassland

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLE4.3b
Threat status
Europe Least Concern
EU Least Concern
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)

Summary

These grasslands and dwarf chamaephyte communities comprise the climax vegetation on predominantly siliceous bedrocks in the alpine belt throughout the temperate mountains of Europe.  Typical of the highest summits and ridges, often very exposed to strong winds and largely blown clear of snow in the winter, they are characteristic of skeletal rankers and mostly shallow free-draining cambisols that can sometimes also be found on de-calcified soils over basic bedrocks.  Nardus stricta-dominated grasslands included here may be influenced by grazing and where stock or wild herbivores reduce the cover of scrub or heath at lower altitudes, the habitat may extend down into the sub-alpine belt.

The vegetation is mostly species-poor, reflecting the harsh environmental conditions, and comprises xero- to mesophilous, heliophilous and calcifuge grasses, sedges and rushes with a significant contingent of foliose and fruticose lichens. However, very commonly the vegetation is found as part of large-scale mosaics with heaths, snow-bed communities and tall herb vegetation, with which there can be some overlap in species composition (for which reason the vegetation has traditionally been grouped in a broadly defined phytosociological class Juncetea trifidi, = Caricetea curvulae).  Regional subtypes sometime show species vicariance such as Festuca eskia being confined to the Pyrenean Peninsula, Festuca varia and Carex curvula missing from the Western Carpathians, Sesleria comosa typical for Balkan mountains. 

Indicators of good quality:

·       Presence of lichens such as Alectoria ochroleuca, Cetraria islandica, Cladonia spp. div.

·       Stability of populations of rare species

·       No signs of erosion due to grazing, indicated by open soil or patches of unpalatable herbs

·       No visible disturbance by trampling, skiing, or burning

·       Absence of nutrient-demanding weeds

·       Continuance of grazing for Nardus stricta-dominated grasslands.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

As far as EU28+ countries are concerned, data for some countries of the Balkan peninsula are missing. Nevertheless, the overall analysis of territorial data leads according to criteria A1, B1, B2 and C/D1 to the category Least Concern both for EU28 and EU28+. The geographic distribution is not restricted (EOO ≥ 50000 km², AOO ≥ 50).
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -

Confidence in the assessment

medium
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Agriculture
    • Grazing
    • Abandonment of pastoral systems, lack of grazing
  • Human intrusions and disturbances
    • Outdoor sports and leisure activities, recreational activities
    • Sport and leisure structures
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Biocenotic evolution, succession
  • Climate change
    • Changes in abiotic conditions

Habitat restoration potential

Alpine siliceous grasslands represent climax communities, that prefer the highest summits and ridges. Once destroyed or severely damaged (e. g. due to construction of skiing complexes), the recovery of the habitat type by natural succession processes will take a very long time. Semi-natural habitats of the subalpine zone with modified species composition due to abandonment of traditional land-use practices need human intervention for restoration. This can be achieved by re-introducing of traditional pastoral systems.

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 maintenance of these grasslands by resumption of traditional pastoral systems in the subalpine zone is one of the key factors for conserving this habitat type. Furthermore, provident management strategies are necessary to delimit local overgrazing. To avoid an ongoing loss of habitats due to construction of skiing comlexes further protected areas have to be established in ecologically sensitive areas.

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)
Austria Present 3840 Decreasing Decreasing
Bulgaria Present 656 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovakia Present 40 Decreasing Decreasing
France mainland Present 2700 Decreasing Decreasing
Spain mainland Present 725 Unknown Stable
Czech Republic Present 7.6 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovenia Present 113 Stable Stable
Germany Present 50 Decreasing Decreasing
Romania Present 136 Decreasing Decreasing
Corsica Present 2700 Decreasing Decreasing
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present 4.2 Decreasing Unknown
Italy mainland Present 2415 Decreasing Decreasing
Poland Present 28 Stable Decreasing
Ireland Present 5 Unknown Unknown
Belgium Uncertain - -
United Kingdom Present 380 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)
Switzerland Present 1700 Decreasing Unknown
Albania Uncertain - -
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 5 Decreasing Decreasing
Kosovo Present Unknown Decreasing Decreasing
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Present 550 Decreasing Decreasing
Montenegro Uncertain - -
Serbia Uncertain - -

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 1720050 1167 11100
EU28+ 1180 13355 no data from Albania, Montenegro and Serbia
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 Agrostis nevadensis
Flowering Plants Agrostis rupestris
Flowering Plants Avenula versicolor
Flowering Plants Bellardiochloa violacea
Flowering Plants Campanula alpina
Flowering Plants Campanula herminii
Flowering Plants Campanula scheuchzeri
Flowering Plants Carex bigelowii
Flowering Plants Carex curvula
Flowering Plants Carex sempervirens
Flowering Plants Cruciata glabra
Flowering Plants Cynosurus cristatus
Flowering Plants Danthonia decumbens
Flowering Plants Deschampsia flexuosa
Flowering Plants Euphrasia minima
Flowering Plants Festuca airoides
Flowering Plants Festuca eskia
Flowering Plants Festuca iberica
Flowering Plants Festuca varia
Flowering Plants Gentiana alpina
Flowering Plants Geum montanum
Flowering Plants Globularia meridionalis
Flowering Plants Hieracium alpinum
Flowering Plants Hieracium lactucella
Flowering Plants Holcus lanatus
Flowering Plants Homogyne alpina
Flowering Plants Iris latifolia
Flowering Plants Juncus squarrosus
Flowering Plants Juncus trifidus
Flowering Plants Koeleria lobata
Flowering Plants Leontodon microcephalus
Flowering Plants Leontodon pyrenaicus
Flowering Plants Leucanthemopsis alpina
Flowering Plants Ligusticum corsicum
Flowering Plants Ligusticum mutellina
Flowering Plants Luzula nutans
Flowering Plants Luzula spicata
Flowering Plants Minuartia recurva
Flowering Plants Nardus stricta
Flowering Plants Oreochloa disticha
Flowering Plants Phyteuma hemisphaericum
Flowering Plants Plantago holosteum
Flowering Plants Potentilla aurea
Flowering Plants Potentilla erecta
Flowering Plants Primula minima
Flowering Plants Ranunculus pyrenaeus
Flowering Plants Sagina pilifera
Flowering Plants Senecio abrotanifolius
Flowering Plants Sesleria comosa
Flowering Plants Thymus nervosus
Flowering Plants Trifolium alpinum
Flowering Plants Trifolium repens
Fungi Cetraria cucullata
Fungi Cetraria islandica
Fungi Cladonia arbuscula
Fungi Cladonia uncialis
Fungi Thamnolia vermicularis
Mosses & Liverworts Polytrichum alpinum
Mosses & Liverworts Racomitrium lanuginosum
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Agrostis nevadensis Flowering Plants
Agrostis rupestris Flowering Plants
Avenula versicolor Flowering Plants
Bellardiochloa violacea Flowering Plants
Campanula alpina Flowering Plants
Campanula herminii Flowering Plants
Campanula scheuchzeri Flowering Plants
Carex bigelowii Flowering Plants
Carex curvula Flowering Plants
Carex sempervirens Flowering Plants
Cruciata glabra Flowering Plants
Cynosurus cristatus Flowering Plants
Danthonia decumbens Flowering Plants
Deschampsia flexuosa Flowering Plants
Euphrasia minima Flowering Plants
Festuca airoides Flowering Plants
Festuca eskia Flowering Plants
Festuca iberica Flowering Plants
Festuca varia Flowering Plants
Gentiana alpina Flowering Plants
Geum montanum Flowering Plants
Globularia meridionalis Flowering Plants
Hieracium alpinum Flowering Plants
Hieracium lactucella Flowering Plants
Holcus lanatus Flowering Plants
Homogyne alpina Flowering Plants
Iris latifolia Flowering Plants
Juncus squarrosus Flowering Plants
Juncus trifidus Flowering Plants
Koeleria lobata Flowering Plants
Leontodon microcephalus Flowering Plants
Leontodon pyrenaicus Flowering Plants
Leucanthemopsis alpina Flowering Plants
Ligusticum corsicum Flowering Plants
Ligusticum mutellina Flowering Plants
Luzula nutans Flowering Plants
Luzula spicata Flowering Plants
Minuartia recurva Flowering Plants
Nardus stricta Flowering Plants
Oreochloa disticha Flowering Plants
Phyteuma hemisphaericum Flowering Plants
Plantago holosteum Flowering Plants
Potentilla aurea Flowering Plants
Potentilla erecta Flowering Plants
Primula minima Flowering Plants
Ranunculus pyrenaeus Flowering Plants
Sagina pilifera Flowering Plants
Senecio abrotanifolius Flowering Plants
Sesleria comosa Flowering Plants
Thymus nervosus Flowering Plants
Trifolium alpinum Flowering Plants
Trifolium repens Flowering Plants
Cetraria cucullata Fungi
Cetraria islandica Fungi
Cladonia arbuscula Fungi
Cladonia uncialis Fungi
Thamnolia vermicularis Fungi
Polytrichum alpinum Mosses & Liverworts
Racomitrium lanuginosum Mosses & Liverworts

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 E4.3 Acid alpine and subalpine grassland narrower
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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