Red List habitat classification > RLE - Grasslands > RLE4.4b Alpine and subalpine calcareous grassland of the Balkan and Apennines

Alpine and subalpine calcareous grassland of the Balkan and Apennines

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLE4.4b
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 habitats built by many alpine plant species have been a source for fodder during summer period. Grasslands can be divided into two main groups: grasslands over calcareous and acid bedrock. They are further divided into two groups according to altitude: one is of primary origin that appears above the timberline, where site conditions are too severe for woody species to grow. The other is secondary and developed in the subalpine vegetation belt, where the forest surfaces were deforested and transformed into pastures and the timberline was lowered for somewhere 300-500 meters. But it is very difficult to draw the line between the primary and secondary grasslands and they often overlap. The subalpine grasslands extend at altitude between 1650 and 2250 m and the alpine ones are above them. Geographically subalpine and alpine grasslands are divided into two orders, Seslerietalia tenuifoliae, comprising alpine and subalpine grasslands of the northern Balkan and Apennines, and Onobrychido-Seslerietalia, comprising those of central and southern Balkans. In the alpine vegetation belt we can find the vegetation alliances Seslerio juncifoliae-Caricion firmae on the northern Dinarides, Seslerion apeninae on the Apennines, Oxytropion dinaricae on southern Dinarides and Anthyllido-Seslerion klastersky in the central part of the Balkans. In the subalpine belt we can find Seslerion apeninne in the Apennines, Seslerion juncifoliae on wind exposed slopes and Festucion pungentis in sheltered sites in Dinarides and Festuco-Knaution longifoliae in Serbia, Festucion xanthinae in the southern Dinarides, Campanulion albanicae in Montenegro and Kosovo and Seslerion nitidae in the central part of the Balkans. But the division between alpine and subalpine is not fixed as alpine communities can appear in the subalpine and even in montane vegetation belt in exposed sites and vice versa in sheltered sites. At the same time, the subalpine communities are well differentiated by the presence of species from dry grasslands that appear in those communities.

Indicators of good quality:

Grasslands in the alpine zone are of primary origin and do not undergo the natural process of afforestation. The only threat is the abandonment of grazing that may change the species composition. It is also expected that global warming will raise the timberline and, therefore, the vegetation zones will shift upwards, however mountains are generally not high enough to allow such an altitudinal shift on the long term.

In the subalpine zone, the situation is much more complicated. With the abandonment of grazing the afforestation process begins. This process is due to severe site condition slower than in lowland, but we can expect that we will lose a great part of subalpine grasslands in the near future.

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

-                  species richness of the grasslands and presence of diagnostic species,

-                  presence of regular grazing (overgrazing can appear near to the stable),

-                  absence of afforestation, absence of high tall herb, shrub and tree species.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

Although territorial data were not provided for all EU28+ countries, the available data seem to give a reliable overview of the overall situation. The calculated decreases in quantity and quality are well below the thresholds to qualify this habitat type as Near Threatened, though a relative severity of degradation of 45.4% was calculated for EU28+ countries. Hence, based on the application of the Red List Criteria, it qualifies for a Least Concern (LC) status both for EU28 as well as EU28+.
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
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Biocenotic evolution, succession
  • Climate change
    • Changes in abiotic conditions

Habitat restoration potential

Once destroyed or severely damaged, the recovery of primary habitats by natural regeneration processes will take a very long time. Semi-natural habitats with modified species composition affected by successional processes are in need of human intervention for their restoration. This can be achieved by re-introduction of traditional pastoral systems.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Stable Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Decreasing Decreasing
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

Establishment of protected sites, legal protection of habitats and species and management of landscape features by resuming traditional pastoral systems are the key factors for maintaining these grasslands. To avoid ongoing degradation it is necessary to regulate the exploitation of natural resources, e. g. by touristic activities.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
    • Other agriculture-related measures
    • 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)
Bulgaria Present 50 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovenia Present 1 Stable Stable
Italy mainland Present 478 Decreasing Decreasing
Romania Present 32 Decreasing Decreasing
Croatia Present 73 Decreasing Stable
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present 557 Decreasing Unknown
EU28 + Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Present 690 Decreasing Decreasing
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 1300 Decreasing Decreasing
Albania Uncertain - -
Kosovo Present Unknown 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 688550 337 1191
EU28+ 538 3181 no data from Albania, Kosovo, 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.
Conifers Juniperus nana
Ferns Asplenium fissum
Flowering Plants Achillea holosericea
Flowering Plants Acinos alpinus
Flowering Plants Aethionema saxatile
Flowering Plants Asperula aristata
Flowering Plants Aster alpinus
Flowering Plants Biscutella laevigata
Flowering Plants Carex laevis
Flowering Plants Centaurea triumfetti
Flowering Plants Dianthus integer
Flowering Plants Draba aizoides
Flowering Plants Draba lasiocarpa
Flowering Plants Fritillaria tenella
Flowering Plants Geranium subcaulescens
Flowering Plants Helianthemum canum
Flowering Plants Hieracium pannosum
Flowering Plants Iberis sempervirens
Flowering Plants Leontodon crispus
Flowering Plants Linum alpinum
Flowering Plants Linum capitatum
Flowering Plants Oxytropis campestris
Flowering Plants Oxytropis neglecta
Flowering Plants Oxytropis purpurea
Flowering Plants Pedicularis comosa
Flowering Plants Pedicularis verticillata
Flowering Plants Peucedanum schottii
Flowering Plants Plantago argentea
Flowering Plants Polygala alpestris
Flowering Plants Polygala comosa
Flowering Plants Potentilla crantzii
Flowering Plants Pulsatilla alpina
Flowering Plants Ranunculus breyninus
Flowering Plants Sesleria juncifolia
Flowering Plants Sesleria nitida
Flowering Plants Teucrium montanum
Flowering Plants Thalictrum minus
Flowering Plants Trinia dalechampii
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Juniperus nana Conifers
Asplenium fissum Ferns
Achillea holosericea Flowering Plants
Acinos alpinus Flowering Plants
Aethionema saxatile Flowering Plants
Asperula aristata Flowering Plants
Aster alpinus Flowering Plants
Biscutella laevigata Flowering Plants
Carex laevis Flowering Plants
Centaurea triumfetti Flowering Plants
Dianthus integer Flowering Plants
Draba aizoides Flowering Plants
Draba lasiocarpa Flowering Plants
Fritillaria tenella Flowering Plants
Geranium subcaulescens Flowering Plants
Helianthemum canum Flowering Plants
Hieracium pannosum Flowering Plants
Iberis sempervirens Flowering Plants
Leontodon crispus Flowering Plants
Linum alpinum Flowering Plants
Linum capitatum Flowering Plants
Oxytropis campestris Flowering Plants
Oxytropis neglecta Flowering Plants
Oxytropis purpurea Flowering Plants
Pedicularis comosa Flowering Plants
Pedicularis verticillata Flowering Plants
Peucedanum schottii Flowering Plants
Plantago argentea Flowering Plants
Polygala alpestris Flowering Plants
Polygala comosa Flowering Plants
Potentilla crantzii Flowering Plants
Pulsatilla alpina Flowering Plants
Ranunculus breyninus Flowering Plants
Sesleria juncifolia Flowering Plants
Sesleria nitida Flowering Plants
Teucrium montanum Flowering Plants
Thalictrum minus Flowering Plants
Trinia dalechampii 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 E4.4 Calcareous alpine and subalpine grassland narrower
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