Red List habitat classification > RLH - Sparsely vegetated habitats > RLH3.2d Mediterranean base-rich inland cliff

Mediterranean base-rich inland cliff

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLH3.2d
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 is composed of cliffs of limestone, calcareous conglomerates and other base-rich rocks in the Mediterranean, except if they are halophytic as a result of being under sea spray influence, with calcicole vascular plants, growing in fissures and crevices (chasmophytes), bryophytes, lichens and epi- and endolithic micro-organisms. The chasmophytic flora is diverse in composition and growth form; it consists mainly of perennial herbs, small ferns, dwarf shrubs, shrubs, tussock grasses, and sometimes woody climbers and small trees. Rosulate, prostrate, succulent and cushion are characteristic growth forms. Genera such as Asplenium, Campanula, Centaurea, Hieracium, Saxifraga, Silene and Teucrium are particularly species-rich and well represented in many Mediterranean regions. Cliff habitats are known to promote speciation and relict endemism through geographical isolation and long-term habitat continuity. Although not particularly rich in species per site (alpha diversity), relicts, as well as neo-endemisms, lead to an extraordinary regional and supra-regional diversity. The large number of floristically well-defined plant communities and alliances reflects these geographical and altitudinal patterns. Apart from the striking biogeographical variation, local-scale differences in species composition occur due to exposure, cliff topography, rock texture, mineral composition and humidity.

Mediterranean base-rich inland cliffs occur in most of the Iberian Peninsula (except the northern part), the Balearic islands, southern France, Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, the Tyrrhenian coastal region with the islands, the Apennines, the Adriatic and Ionian coastal regions and islands, the southern Balkans (as far as Mediterranean climate is prevailing), the Aegean, Cyprus, further to Mediterranean Turkey (Anatolia) and the Mediterranean parts of Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Israel, as well as to northern Africa (i.e. Cyrenaica in Lybia, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco). Non-halophytic cliffs are present from sea-level up to the high mountains, exposed or sheltered, in ravines, gorges, precipices and summit areas. Ultramafic cliffs are included under habitat H3.2g, while halophytic coastal cliffs are included under habitat B3.1-3b.

Indicators of quality:

Mediterranean limestone cliffs are mostly natural habitats with only little or marginal human influence. Mediterranean cliffs support a characteristic chasmophytic flora rich in local and regional endemics. There are several examples of neo-endemics (Quaternary speciation) as well as paleo-endemics (Tertiary relics). The occurrence of rare and phytogeographically significant endemics indicates high quality. Since the chasmophytic flora varies much between areas, the quality of particular sites should be judged by the chasmophytes occurring in the site proportional to those in the wider area.

Cliff habitats are mostly inaccessible and as such to some extent they are naturally protected. Human impacts such as quarrying and rock control structures are tantamount to the destruction of the habitat. The following characteristics may be used as indicators of good quality:

  • Occurrence of a representative set of rare species, in particular narrow or regional endemics
  • Presence of different aspects of rock walls, different exposure to insolation, moisture and rock structures such as vertical rock faces, overhangs, cavities, rock shelters and ledges
  • Contact with natural habitats such as extensive screes, rock shrubs and dry grasslands
  • Absence of limestone mining and quarrying
  • Absence of rock control structures
  • Absence of garbage dumping and nutrient input from above the cliff
  • Absence of rock climbing facilities

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

The habitat type is assessed as Least Concern status (LC) in view of its stable trend, since a reduction of only 0.4% has occurred over the last 50 years. Reductions in quality cannot be estimated due to lack of information. Future trends for this habitat are rather unpredictable, but most of the Mediterranean cliffs fall within natural reserves or protected areas and thus are presumed to be stable.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Least Concern -

Confidence in the assessment

low
Red List of habitat categories and criteria descriptions

Pressures and threats

  • Mining, extraction of materials and energy production
    • Mining and quarrying
  • Transportation and service corridors
    • Roads, paths and railroads
    • Roads, motorways
    • Tunnel
  • Human intrusions and disturbances
    • Outdoor sports and leisure activities, recreational activities
    • Mountaineering, rock climbing, speleology
    • Mountaineering & rock climbing
    • Recreational cave visits
    • Fences, fencing
  • Invasive, other problematic species and genes
    • Invasive non-native species

Habitat restoration potential

Unless completely destroyed, cliff recovery is possible provided that it is potentially connected with similar environments and that natural geo-morphological processes are not hampered. As many specialised plants of this habitat type are poor dispersers, the species composition is expected to remain impoverished even after initial habitat recovery.

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Stable Stable
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Unknown Unknown
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

The best management practice for this highly natural habitat is to leave it simply untouched, thus avoiding any human interference with its natural processes. Luckily, cliffs are mostly present in protected areas.
Information about the biological value of this habitat to the potential users, such as climbers, should be extensively provided. In addition, public awareness about the biological relevance of such apparently inhospitable environments should be increased.

List of conservation and management needs

  • Measures related to spatial planning
    • Establish protected areas/sites
    • 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)
Croatia Present 25 Stable Stable
Cyprus Present unknown Unknown Unknown
France mainland Present 175 Decreasing Decreasing
Corsica Present 175 Decreasing Decreasing
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present 150 Unknown Unknown
Crete Present 150 Unknown Unknown
East Aegean Present 150 Unknown Unknown
Italy mainland Present 137 Decreasing Stable
Sardinia Present 137 Decreasing Stable
Sicily Present 137 Decreasing Stable
Portugal mainland Present 15 Unknown Increasing
Slovenia Present 1 Stable Stable
Spain mainland Present 261 Decreasing Stable
EU28 + Present or presence uncertain Current area of habitat (Km2) Recent trend in quantity (last 50 years) Recent trend in quality (last 50 years)
Albania Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 5 - Stable

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 >50.000 >50 764
EU28+ >50 769 These figures are calculated without considering data from Cyprus and Albania, as it was not available.
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.
Ferns Anogramma leptophylla
Ferns Cosentinia vellea
Ferns Cystopteris fragilis
Ferns Davallia canariensis
Ferns Selaginella denticulata
Flowering Plants Alyssoides cretica
Flowering Plants Artemisia chamaemelifolia subsp. cantabrica
Flowering Plants Bellium bellidioides
Flowering Plants Biscutella frutescens
Flowering Plants Carex rorulenta
Flowering Plants Carum meoides
Flowering Plants Centranthus ruber subsp. sibthorpii
Flowering Plants Crocus cambessedesii
Flowering Plants Danthoniastrum compactum
Flowering Plants Digitalis dubia
Flowering Plants Ebenus cretica
Flowering Plants Erodium reichardii
Flowering Plants Eryngium ternatum
Flowering Plants Erysimum candicum
Flowering Plants Euphorbia herniariifolia
Flowering Plants Ficus carica
Flowering Plants Galatella cretica
Flowering Plants Gypsophila montserratii
Flowering Plants Iberis gibraltarica
Flowering Plants Jankaea heldreichii
Flowering Plants Jasione foliosa
Flowering Plants Lactuca acanthifolia
Flowering Plants Lafuentea rotundifolia
Flowering Plants Linum arboreum
Flowering Plants Macrotomia densiflora
Flowering Plants Melica rectiflora
Flowering Plants Myosotis speluncicola
Flowering Plants Narcissus calcicola
Flowering Plants Naufraga balearica
Flowering Plants Odontites linkii
Flowering Plants Onobrychis sphaciotica
Flowering Plants Onosma graeca
Flowering Plants Origanum dictamnus
Flowering Plants Petromarula pinnata
Flowering Plants Petrorhagia dianthoides
Flowering Plants Poa cenisia
Flowering Plants Ptilostemon chamaepeuce
Flowering Plants Ramonda myconi
Flowering Plants Rubia angustifolia
Flowering Plants Rupicapnos africana subsp. decipiens
Flowering Plants Satureja parnassica
Flowering Plants Scorzonera cretica
Flowering Plants Scutellaria sieberi
Flowering Plants Sempervivum marmoreum
Flowering Plants Senecio castagneanus
Flowering Plants Sibthorpia africana
Flowering Plants Symphytum creticum
Flowering Plants Trisetum velutinum
Mosses & Liverworts Anoectangium aestivum
Mosses & Liverworts Anomodon viticulosus
Mosses & Liverworts Brachythecium glareosum
Mosses & Liverworts Brachythecium laetum
Mosses & Liverworts Bryum elegans
Mosses & Liverworts Ctenidium molluscum
Mosses & Liverworts Didymodon vinealis
Mosses & Liverworts Distichium capillaceum
Mosses & Liverworts Distichium inclinatum
Mosses & Liverworts Ditrichum flexicaule
Mosses & Liverworts Encalypta streptocarpa
Mosses & Liverworts Encalypta vulgaris
Mosses & Liverworts Grimmia anodon
Mosses & Liverworts Grimmia capillata
Mosses & Liverworts Grimmia crinita
Mosses & Liverworts Grimmia orbicularis
Mosses & Liverworts Grimmia teretinervis
Mosses & Liverworts Grimmia tergestina
Mosses & Liverworts Gymnostomum aeruginosum
Mosses & Liverworts Gymnostomum calcareum
Mosses & Liverworts Gymnostomum viridulum
Mosses & Liverworts Gyroweisia tenuis
Mosses & Liverworts Homalia trichomanoides
Mosses & Liverworts Homalothecium lutescens
Mosses & Liverworts Homalothecium philippeanum
Mosses & Liverworts Homalothecium sericeum
Mosses & Liverworts Isothecium myosuroides
Mosses & Liverworts Mnium marginatum
Mosses & Liverworts Mnium stellare
Mosses & Liverworts Myurella tenerrima
Mosses & Liverworts Neckera complanata
Mosses & Liverworts Neckera crispa
Mosses & Liverworts Orthotrichum anomalum
Mosses & Liverworts Orthotrichum cupulatum
Mosses & Liverworts Pseudoleskea incurvata
Mosses & Liverworts Pseudoleskeella catenulata
Mosses & Liverworts Pterogonium gracile
Mosses & Liverworts Schistidium apocarpum
Mosses & Liverworts Schistidium brunnescens
Mosses & Liverworts Schistidium crassipilum
Mosses & Liverworts Seligeria calcarea
Mosses & Liverworts Timmia bavarica
Mosses & Liverworts Tortella tortuosa
Mosses & Liverworts Tortula calcicolens
Mosses & Liverworts Tortula crinita
Mosses & Liverworts Tortula muralis
Mosses & Liverworts Tortula norvegica
Mosses & Liverworts Tortula ruralis
Mosses & Liverworts Trichostomum crispulum
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Anogramma leptophylla Ferns
Cosentinia vellea Ferns
Cystopteris fragilis Ferns
Davallia canariensis Ferns
Selaginella denticulata Ferns
Alyssoides cretica Flowering Plants
Artemisia chamaemelifolia subsp. cantabrica Flowering Plants
Bellium bellidioides Flowering Plants
Biscutella frutescens Flowering Plants
Carex rorulenta Flowering Plants
Carum meoides Flowering Plants
Centranthus ruber subsp. sibthorpii Flowering Plants
Crocus cambessedesii Flowering Plants
Danthoniastrum compactum Flowering Plants
Digitalis dubia Flowering Plants
Ebenus cretica Flowering Plants
Erodium reichardii Flowering Plants
Eryngium ternatum Flowering Plants
Erysimum candicum Flowering Plants
Euphorbia herniariifolia Flowering Plants
Ficus carica Flowering Plants
Galatella cretica Flowering Plants
Gypsophila montserratii Flowering Plants
Iberis gibraltarica Flowering Plants
Jankaea heldreichii Flowering Plants
Jasione foliosa Flowering Plants
Lactuca acanthifolia Flowering Plants
Lafuentea rotundifolia Flowering Plants
Linum arboreum Flowering Plants
Macrotomia densiflora Flowering Plants
Melica rectiflora Flowering Plants
Myosotis speluncicola Flowering Plants
Narcissus calcicola Flowering Plants
Naufraga balearica Flowering Plants
Odontites linkii Flowering Plants
Onobrychis sphaciotica Flowering Plants
Onosma graeca Flowering Plants
Origanum dictamnus Flowering Plants
Petromarula pinnata Flowering Plants
Petrorhagia dianthoides Flowering Plants
Poa cenisia Flowering Plants
Ptilostemon chamaepeuce Flowering Plants
Ramonda myconi Flowering Plants
Rubia angustifolia Flowering Plants
Rupicapnos africana subsp. decipiens Flowering Plants
Satureja parnassica Flowering Plants
Scorzonera cretica Flowering Plants
Scutellaria sieberi Flowering Plants
Sempervivum marmoreum Flowering Plants
Senecio castagneanus Flowering Plants
Sibthorpia africana Flowering Plants
Symphytum creticum Flowering Plants
Trisetum velutinum Flowering Plants
Anoectangium aestivum Mosses & Liverworts
Anomodon viticulosus Mosses & Liverworts
Brachythecium glareosum Mosses & Liverworts
Brachythecium laetum Mosses & Liverworts
Bryum elegans Mosses & Liverworts
Ctenidium molluscum Mosses & Liverworts
Didymodon vinealis Mosses & Liverworts
Distichium capillaceum Mosses & Liverworts
Distichium inclinatum Mosses & Liverworts
Ditrichum flexicaule Mosses & Liverworts
Encalypta streptocarpa Mosses & Liverworts
Encalypta vulgaris Mosses & Liverworts
Grimmia anodon Mosses & Liverworts
Grimmia capillata Mosses & Liverworts
Grimmia crinita Mosses & Liverworts
Grimmia orbicularis Mosses & Liverworts
Grimmia teretinervis Mosses & Liverworts
Grimmia tergestina Mosses & Liverworts
Gymnostomum aeruginosum Mosses & Liverworts
Gymnostomum calcareum Mosses & Liverworts
Gymnostomum viridulum Mosses & Liverworts
Gyroweisia tenuis Mosses & Liverworts
Homalia trichomanoides Mosses & Liverworts
Homalothecium lutescens Mosses & Liverworts
Homalothecium philippeanum Mosses & Liverworts
Homalothecium sericeum Mosses & Liverworts
Isothecium myosuroides Mosses & Liverworts
Mnium marginatum Mosses & Liverworts
Mnium stellare Mosses & Liverworts
Myurella tenerrima Mosses & Liverworts
Neckera complanata Mosses & Liverworts
Neckera crispa Mosses & Liverworts
Orthotrichum anomalum Mosses & Liverworts
Orthotrichum cupulatum Mosses & Liverworts
Pseudoleskea incurvata Mosses & Liverworts
Pseudoleskeella catenulata Mosses & Liverworts
Pterogonium gracile Mosses & Liverworts
Schistidium apocarpum Mosses & Liverworts
Schistidium brunnescens Mosses & Liverworts
Schistidium crassipilum Mosses & Liverworts
Seligeria calcarea Mosses & Liverworts
Timmia bavarica Mosses & Liverworts
Tortella tortuosa Mosses & Liverworts
Tortula calcicolens Mosses & Liverworts
Tortula crinita Mosses & Liverworts
Tortula muralis Mosses & Liverworts
Tortula norvegica Mosses & Liverworts
Tortula ruralis Mosses & Liverworts
Trichostomum crispulum Mosses & Liverworts

Vegetation types

Relation to vegetation types (syntaxa)

Not available

Other classifications

Not available
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