Red List habitat classification > RLF - Heathland and scrub > RLF7.4a Western Mediterranean mountain hedgehog-heath

Western Mediterranean mountain hedgehog-heath

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLF7.4a
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)


This habitat consists of scrub or shrubby vegetation dominated by prostrate ligneous plants of pulviniform habit, i.e. simulating a hedgehog. They live in high mountainous areas, mostly in upper supra- and oro-mediterranean levels, usually between 1,600 and 2,300 m Aslin mountains of the central and southern Iberian Peninsula. This habitat type is presentin the siliceous mountains (Cytision oromediterranei, Genisto versicoloris-Juniperion hemisphaericae) and in the calcareous ones (Pruno prostratae-Juniperion sabinae, Xeroacantho-Erinaceion anthyllidis); while in the dolomitic substrata of the Baetic ranges, the endemic-rich alliance Andryalion aghardii is represented. Junipers and hedgehog legumes, often spiny, are the dominant and representative elements of this habitat, which is adapted to conditions of cold and drought typical of the Mediterranean mountains. The flora is rich in narrow endemics due to speciation, which is enhanced by isolation between mountain summits. Endemics are much more numerous on limestone or dolomite than in siliceous substrata. This habitat type constitutes, in most of the stands, the potential natural vegetation of the oro-mediterranean belt but there are also secondary, anthropo-zoogenic downslope extensions of the high-altitude formations which can be considered seral scrubs; at these lower altitudes, the primary stands of this habitat are in the crests and steep slopes. Due to human influence (grazing, burning), those extensions have historically increased and currently occupy somewhat larger areas than they would under strictly natural conditions. This habitat type has been traditionally used by an extensive husbandry with local transhumance of sheep and goat herds moving along the different altitudinal levels, and thus leading to a moderate grazing pressure.

Indicators of good quality:

In optimal conditions, this type shows a structure of dense scrub or shrubland of high to medium cover with prominent cushion shaped (hedgehog) ligneous plants in mosaic with a grassland of hard grasses in the open spaces. The following characteristics may be considered as indicators of good quality:

  • Abundance of endemics, including threatened species.
  • High to medium cover of vascular plant vegetation, particularly prostrate shrubs and chamaephytes.
  • Absence of signals of disturbance by trampling, skiing or burning.
  • Absence of ruderal, nutrient-demanding species.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

This habitat is assessed as Least Concern as it occurs in high mountains and it is relatively self-protected, and the fact that it has not declined fast enough to qualify for a threatened Category. However, the development of infrastructures for ski resorts and the use of tracks by hikers and mountain-bikes, together with as the construction of the road network, have substantially increased the threats to this habitat. Additionally, in some areas there has been also important artificial plantations of pines (mostly Pinus sylvestris), which makes the situation less optimistic for the next future, in combination with the expected effects of climate change. Therefore this habitat type should be monitored carefully, and conservation measures should be put in place to further protect it.
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -

Confidence in the assessment

Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Transportation and service corridors
    • Paths, tracks, cycling tracks
    • Car parcs and parking areas
  • Human intrusions and disturbances
    • Skiing, off-piste
    • Skiing complex
  • Climate change
    • Temperature changes (e.g. rise of temperature & extremes)

Habitat restoration potential

Due to the effects of climate change, the recovery capacity of this habitat type after a severe damage is slow, needing several decades to recover.

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

Control of skiing activities and the development of associated resorts (i.e. stop erecting new buildings, parking lots, roads, sky tracks, etc). Stopping the process of planting pines and other conifers is required, together with a restriction on the building of roads and tracks for 4x4 vehicles and a restriction of access for mountain-bikes, motorcycles and quads.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites


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 579 Decreasing Decreasing
Portugal mainland Present 77 Stable Increasing
Balearic Islands Uncertain 579 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 595250 629 656 Mostly in mountains of the Iberian Peninsula
EU28+ 629 656 Mostly in mountains of the Iberian Peninsula
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

Not available

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

Not available
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