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Plant Sociology numero 54 (2) S1

pag. 85-96: Ecology and conservation status of Muscari gussonei (Parl.) Nyman in Sicily: a narrow endemic species threatened by habitat reduction

S. Sciandrello, G. Giusso del Galdo, P. Minissale

Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Catania, v. A. Longo 19, I-95125 Catania, Italy.

doi: 10.7338/pls2017542S1/08

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abstract

Muscari gussonei (Parl.) Nyman (Hyacinthaceae) is a rare endemic psammophyte occurring in southern Sicily (Italy). It is listed as Endangered species (EN) in the Red Book of Italian plants, included in the Annex I of Berne Convention (1979), and Annex II of the Habitat Directive 92/43/EEC as a priority species. This species characterizes the psammophilous plant communities ascribed to the Vulpio-Leopoldietum gussonei, together with many therophytes of the Cutandietalia maritimae order. Aims of this work were to examine the structure and floristic composition of the M. gussonei community, assess its conservation status and propose conservation measures. This study is part of a LIFE project (LIFE11 NAT/IT/000232 - Action
D.1). Distribution and population structure were investigated through many field surveys carried out between 2013 and 2015. In order to define the ecological requirements of M. gussonei, 10 permanent plots were designed, while for characterizing the habitat of M. gussonei 41 phytosociological reléves were randomly carried out. Classification of relevés by using cluster analysis revealed three plant communities with M. gussonei, each with specific key species and linked to different environments. Three vegetation types (white dunes, grey dunes, inland or fossil dunes) were confirmed by canonical component analysis (10 plots) and they are correlated to a gradient of ecological features ranging from coastal to inland areas. After a census of M. gussonei populations joined to the their mapping, the conservation status, according to IUCN guidelines, was assessed confirming the EN category. Finally, this study provides some relevant issues for the implementation of conservation measures.

keywords

conservation status monitoring, Leopoldia LIFE project, Mediterranean coastal conservation, plant distribution, population structure, psammophilous vegetation