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

Central Mediterranean mountain hedgehog-heath

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLF7.4b
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

This habitat includes high-mountain thorny-cushion dwarf scrub in the Central Mediterranean region. In terms of structure and ecology it is similar to the hedgehog heaths from the West-Mediterranean (F7.4a) and the East-Mediterranean (F7.4c). It is however distinguished as a separate, vicariant type, because of its different species composition, with many endemics. The dominant species are chamaephytes, morphologically similar to those in the West and East Mediterranean hedgehog heath. In the Central Mediterranean region the characteristic shrubs belong to the genera Aspalathus, Genista or Armeria. Central Mediterranean hedgehog heath is found in the supra-mediterranean and oro-mediteranean belts of the islands of Elba, Sardegna and Sicily and of the Southern Apennines and Cantabrian mountains. It is found both on acidic and calcareous soils, mainly on very windy sites that are exposed to an intense solar radiation.

Spiny Astragalus-species dominate primary stations above or near the timberline. Due to deforestation or grazing, such communities may have a downslope expansion. In lower altitudes they also grow on rocky ridges that are free of trees. In the Central Mediterranean the following Astragalus species are important in the mountain hedgehog heath: Astragalus calabrus in the Sila Massive of Calabria, Astragalus gennargenteus on Mount Gennargentu (Sardinia) and in the mountains of Corse, Astragalus nebrodensis (= Astragalus siculus subsp. nebrodensis) in the Madonie mountain chain of Sicily, Astragalus siculus on Mount Etna (Sicily), and relict stands of Astragalus sirinicus in the southern Appennines. These Astragalus-communities contain a high amount of endemic vascular plants, amongst which several species of Viola. In the Central Mediterranean region only the Mount Etna is sufficiently high to allow an optimal development of the thorny Astragalus dominated belt. In the other mountain groups the Astragalus-associations occur rather localized near the top of the mountains.

Genista dominated hedgehog-heath occurs mainly below the timberline, and in most cases is considered a secondary habitat, although it may form the climax vegetation on strongly wind-swept locations. In general such communities have a lower percentage of endemics than the Astragalus-communities, and a higher frequency of broader Mediterranean species, amongst which many therophytes. Examples of characteristic species are Genista salzmannii on Sardegna and Corse, Genista desoleana on Elba and Genista cupanii on Sicily. Genista-dominated scrub forms transitions towards Juniperus communis ssp. nana (Corse) or Juniperus hemisphaerica (Sicily) dominated dwarf scrub (F2.2b), in general found on deeper and more humid soils. Berberis aetnensis is a common species of both the Juniperus-dominated and the Genista-dominated dwarf scrub. On Sardegna and Corse mountain hedgehog heath is often found in mosaic with patches of oro-mediterranean grassland (E1.5c).

In Calabria spiny heaths are found on Mont Aspromonte, dominated by Armeria aspromontana, Potentilla calabra and Centaurea poltiana. Armeria nebrodensis is one of the dominant species in hedgehog heath on acidic soils in the Madonie mountains of Sicily.

Spiny scrub communities in the warmer parts of the Alps and Pyrenees, like those dominated by Astragalus sempervirens subsp. sempervirens, Genista lobelii or Genista hispanica, are not included in this habitat, but in F6.3 (supra-mediterranean garrigues). Spiny heathlands in the warmer parts of the Alps, like those dominated by Genista lobelii and Genista pulchella ssp. villarsii (alliance Genistion lobelii) or by Astragalus sempervirens (alliance Ononidion cenisiae = Avenion sempervirentis) are considered part of F6.6.

Indicators of good quality:

In good condition the habitat has a low structure and is rather open, forming mosaics with bare soil or grassland types. Indicators of good quality are:

·     No or little presence of trees,

·     Low hedgehog-like vegetation structure,

·     Forming landscape mosaics with grasslands or bare soil.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The habitat qualifies for a Least Concern (LC) status, due to a limited (-20%) decrease in area over the last 50 years, linked to a reduction of summer grazing, and a slightly decreasing quality over the same period. The habitat occurs very localised, but values for distribution and range do not meet the thresholds of the restricted geography criterion.
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
    • Intensive grazing
    • Abandonment of pastoral systems, lack of grazing
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Species composition change (succession)

Habitat restoration potential

Only in case of destruction of the habitat connectivity.

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 hedgehog heath of the central Mediterranean are grazed in summer by goats and sheep. This type of pastoralism maintains the habitat. This habitat does'nt need any reglementary protection measures, except the continuation of the traditional sheep and goat grazing.

List of conservation and management needs

  • No measures
    • No measures needed for the conservation of the habitat/species
  • Measures related to agriculture and open habitats
    • Maintaining grasslands and other open habitats

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)
Corsica Present 390 Stable Decreasing
Italy mainland Present 227 Stable Decreasing
Sardinia Present 227 Stable Decreasing
Sicily Present 227 Stable 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 306500 160 617
EU28+ 160 617
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 communis
Conifers Juniperus hemisphaerica
Flowering Plants Alyssum robertianum
Flowering Plants Anthyllis hermanniae
Flowering Plants Armeria canescens
Flowering Plants Armeria multiceps
Flowering Plants Armeria nebrodensis
Flowering Plants Armeria sardoa
Flowering Plants Astragalus calabrus
Flowering Plants Astragalus genargenteus
Flowering Plants Astragalus nebrodensis
Flowering Plants Astragalus sempervirens
Flowering Plants Astragalus siculus
Flowering Plants Astragalus sirinicus
Flowering Plants Berberis aetnensis
Flowering Plants Centaurea sarfattiana
Flowering Plants Genista corsica
Flowering Plants Genista cupanii
Flowering Plants Genista desoleana
Flowering Plants Genista hispanica
Flowering Plants Genista lobelii
Flowering Plants Genista salzmannii
Flowering Plants Plantago humilis
Flowering Plants Plantago serpentina
Flowering Plants Plantago subulata
Flowering Plants Potentilla calabra
Flowering Plants Prunus spinosa
Flowering Plants Rumex aetnensis
Flowering Plants Ruta corsica
Flowering Plants Teucrium marum
Flowering Plants Thymus herba-barona
Flowering Plants Viola aethnensis
Flowering Plants Viola corsica
Flowering Plants Viola nebrodensis
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Juniperus communis Conifers
Juniperus hemisphaerica Conifers
Alyssum robertianum Flowering Plants
Anthyllis hermanniae Flowering Plants
Armeria canescens Flowering Plants
Armeria multiceps Flowering Plants
Armeria nebrodensis Flowering Plants
Armeria sardoa Flowering Plants
Astragalus calabrus Flowering Plants
Astragalus genargenteus Flowering Plants
Astragalus nebrodensis Flowering Plants
Astragalus sempervirens Flowering Plants
Astragalus siculus Flowering Plants
Astragalus sirinicus Flowering Plants
Berberis aetnensis Flowering Plants
Centaurea sarfattiana Flowering Plants
Genista corsica Flowering Plants
Genista cupanii Flowering Plants
Genista desoleana Flowering Plants
Genista hispanica Flowering Plants
Genista lobelii Flowering Plants
Genista salzmannii Flowering Plants
Plantago humilis Flowering Plants
Plantago serpentina Flowering Plants
Plantago subulata Flowering Plants
Potentilla calabra Flowering Plants
Prunus spinosa Flowering Plants
Rumex aetnensis Flowering Plants
Ruta corsica Flowering Plants
Teucrium marum Flowering Plants
Thymus herba-barona Flowering Plants
Viola aethnensis Flowering Plants
Viola corsica Flowering Plants
Viola nebrodensis 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 F7.4 Hedgehog-heaths narrower
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