Red List habitat classification > RLH - Sparsely vegetated habitats > RLH3.2f Temperate ultramafic inland cliff

Temperate ultramafic inland cliff

Quick facts

Red List habitat type code RLH3.2f
Threat status
Europe Data Deficient
EU Data Deficient
Relation to
Source European Red List habitat factsheet
European Red List of habitats reports
European Red List of habitats (Excel table)

Summary

This habitat occurs on southern, south-eastern and south-western slopes, from lowland to alpine belts, on bare ultramafic (e.g. serpentine) cliffs and rocks covered by shallow soil. The ultramafic rocks are ophiolitic, the content of calcium and silica is very low, but they contain high concentrations of aluminium, iron, magnesium, nickel, cobalt and chromium. The pH varies from basic to ultra-basic (5.5-8). The fluctuation of temperature, heat and drought is an important ecological factor.

The vegetation cover is low, consisting mainly of annuals, grasses and several fern species, which are adapted to the ultramafic conditions. The flora contains some rare and endemic species. The communities of this habitat are classified within the alliance Asplenion serpentini (order Asplenietalia septentrionalis) in Central Europe, and Ramondion nathaliae (Potentilletalia speciosae) in the south-central Balkan. The endemic and relict species Ramonda nathaliae is a typical chasmophyte which primarily grows on limestone rocks, but in the central part of Macedonia it can be found also on serpentine and siliceous rocks.

Communities on ophiolitic rocks are also found in the Western Alps (France, Italy and Switzerland) and in the Apennines. Ophiolitic cliffs are local phenomena and occur in restricted mountainous areas of those regions. Carex fimbriata, Noccaea alpestris subsp. sylvium, and Cardamine plumieri are three species occurring almost exclusively in sub- and alpine communities on ophiolitic substratum (cliffs, rock outcrops and open grasslands). Carex fimbriata is endemic to the Western Alps and the Apennines. Those communities have not been distinguished from other sub- and alpine alliances (cliffs: Potentillion caulescentis, Violo-Cystopteridion or Androsacion vandelii). 

The main threats of the ultramafic rocks are mining, erosion processes, grazing, and fires.

Indicators of quality:

  • species richness of the cliffs and presence of the characteristic species,
  • presence of rare and endemic species.

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

Threat status

Synthesis of Red List assessment

Because of important data gaps and large uncertainties in reported data no Red List criteria could be evaluated, except those under B, due to the relatively wide distribution. Therefore this habitat type is labelled as Data Deficient (DD). It is worth improving the data because this habitat type possibly qualifies for the ‘Near Threatened’ category at the European scale.
EU
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Data Deficient -
Europe
Red List Category Red List Criteria
Data Deficient -

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
  • Natural biotic and abiotic processes (without catastrophes)
    • Biocenotic evolution, succession
    • Interspecific floral relations

Habitat restoration potential

The highly scattered distribution of the habitat makes any natural recovery very slow, even impossible without human intervention (species reintroduction).

Trends in extent

Average current trend in quantity

Unknown Unknown
EU28 EU28+

Trends in quality

Average current trend in quality

Unknown Unknown
EU28 EU28+

Conservation and management needs

This habitat type benefits mainly from the conservation of some emblematic - and often protected - species, like Asplenium cuneifolium (protected in France) or Asplenium adulterinum (Annex II Natura 2000). This kind of conservation usually takes place in ‘older’ and lower mountain ranges within which the habitat occurs on small and well-known spots (Central Massif in France, Bohemian Massif in Czech Republic). There, conservation usually consists of protecting the species and habitat from degradations and in restoring proper habitat conditions (e.g. cutting surrounding trees). In the Alps, conservation depends on the presence of protected areas. The knowledge of this habitat and associated plant species in the Alps should also be improved. A legal protection should be attributed to Carex fimbriata and Ramonda nathaliae.

List of conservation and management needs

  • 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 unknown Stable Stable
Croatia Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Czech Republic Present 0.5 Unknown Stable
Germany Present 2 Decreasing Decreasing
Slovenia Present 0.05 Stable Stable
France mainland Present unknown Unknown Unknown
Greece (mainland and other islands) Present 4 Stable Stable
Italy mainland Present unknown 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)
Bosnia and Herzegovina Present 5 Decreasing Stable
Former Yugoslavian Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) Present 5 Decreasing Unknown
Switzerland Present 0.1 Decreasing Decreasing

Extent of Occurrence, Area of Occupancy and habitat area

Extent of Occurrence (EOO) (Km2) Area of Occupancy (AOO) Current estimated Total Area Comment
EU28 >50000 unknown unknown
EU28+ unknown unknown
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 Asplenium adulterinum
Ferns Notholaena marantae
Ferns Polypodium vulgare
Flowering Plants Asyneuma limonifolium
Flowering Plants Campanula rotundifolia
Flowering Plants Carex fimbriata
Flowering Plants Cistus incanus
Flowering Plants Dorycnium herbaceum
Flowering Plants Festuca pallens
Flowering Plants Halacsya sendtneri
Flowering Plants Minuartia hybrida
Flowering Plants Onosma echioides
Flowering Plants Ramonda nathaliae
Flowering Plants Silene flavescens
Flowering Plants Thlaspi praecox
Mosses & Liverworts Brachythecium velutinum
Mosses & Liverworts Homalothecium sericeum
Mosses & Liverworts Hypnum cupressiforme
Mosses & Liverworts Polytrichum piliferum
Species scientific name English common name Species group
Asplenium adulterinum Ferns
Notholaena marantae Ferns
Polypodium vulgare Ferns
Asyneuma limonifolium Flowering Plants
Campanula rotundifolia Flowering Plants
Carex fimbriata Flowering Plants
Cistus incanus Flowering Plants
Dorycnium herbaceum Flowering Plants
Festuca pallens Flowering Plants
Halacsya sendtneri Flowering Plants
Minuartia hybrida Flowering Plants
Onosma echioides Flowering Plants
Ramonda nathaliae Flowering Plants
Silene flavescens Flowering Plants
Thlaspi praecox Flowering Plants
Brachythecium velutinum Mosses & Liverworts
Homalothecium sericeum Mosses & Liverworts
Hypnum cupressiforme Mosses & Liverworts
Polytrichum piliferum 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 H3.2 Basic and ultra-basic inland cliffs narrower
European Environment Agency (EEA)
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