Introduction to the Special issue “Conservation, Restoration, and Sustainable Development of Mediterranean Forests”*
Camilla Wellstein, Stefan Zerbe
Goat preference for phylogenetical diverse compared to similar Mediterranean shrubs
Rogosic Jozo, Michael Ralph, Antonela Musa, Dragan Skobic, Marina Krvavica and Maja Arapovic
Goat preference for phylogenetically diverse Mediterranean shrubs is key to understanding ecological relationships be- tween plant and animal components of these shrubby ecosystems. In this study, we explore the preference of goats for phylogenetically diverse compared to similar Mediterranean shrubs. In four consecutive experiments, goats in group 1 were fed with one, two, three or four similar oak species (Quercus pubescens, Q. ilex, Q. cerris and Q. petraea), while goats in group 2 were fed with one, two, three and four phylogenetically diverse shrubs (Fraxinus ornus, Arbutus unedo, Hedera helix and Juniperus oxycedrus) that belong to different genera, family, order and subclasses. There was no difference in biomass intake between groups in Exp. 1 (17.76 ± 0.91 vs. 15.92 ± 0.79 g/kg BW; P = 0.52) and Exp. 2 (27.03 ± 0.86 vs. 30.79 ± 0.79 g/kg BW; P = 0.12).However goats in the phylogenetically diverse group 2consumed more biomass in Exp. 3 (28.99 ± 0.91 vs. 39.57 ± 1.13 g/kg BW; P < 0.001) and Exp. 4 (31.67 ± 0.94 vs. 45.67 ± 1.01 g/kg BW; P < 0.001) in comparison to goats fed with phylogenetical similar oak (Quercus) species. Our results confirm the hypothesis that intake of plant biomass often increases when animals are offered different plant species which are phylogenetically more diverse.
Ecology and potential distribution of the Cretan endemic tree species Zelkova abelicea*
Goedecke, F. & Bergmeier, E.
Mediterranean mountain forests feature woody species relicts such as Zelkova abelicea, an endemic tree species confined to six spatially and genetically distinct populations in Crete (S Aegean, Greece). We used species distribution modelling to predict the potential distribution of Zelkova abelicea. Comparison of coordinate-based geodata extractions for climate and topography revealed pronounced environmental differences for the metapopulations. Main factors for species distribution models were altitude and temperature seasonality (proxy for west-east gradient) whereas topographic conditions had surprisingly little influence on our models. While the most extensive Zelkova metapopulations were found to occur under locally fairly mesic conditions and comprising a wider ecological spectrum, the smaller populations comprising narrower ecological range occurred at lower elevations and further east. For further extrapolation with similar models for known populations, only similar site conditions allowed for a prediction. Differentiated site conditions in the mountains, genetic distinctness and possible environmental adaptations of isolated populations are to be considered in conservation and management.
What does forest restoration mean in Italy?*
The Author reviews past and new causes of forest degradation occurring in Mediterranean basin. A number of the cases examined here require rapid interventions aimed to prevent floods and so-called “natural disasters” beside to increase their yield in term of forest ecological services. With the intention of conceptualizing and proposing the most suitable meaning of forest restoration in the Italian context, the Author lists a series of forest restoration cases by partitioning these in two main categories depending upon the two approaches considered. The first category includes cases where the eco-functional approach has been considered and includes: forest burned areas, degraded afforestation with conifers (Pinus nigra sl), degraded or abandoned agricultural lands, degraded beech woodlands, mining areas, coastal dunes and invaded areas by alien forest species such as Ailanthus glandulosa. The second category includes cases where a cultural and aesthetic approach has been considered and includes chestnut orchards.
Protection against floods of the urban watersheds of Sidi Thabet in the lower valley of the Medjerda catchment (Tunisia)
Ahlem Gara, Khouloud Gader, Donia Jendoubi, Mohamed Bergaoui
This paper aims to protect against floods of the area of Sidi Thabet, which is located in the Lower valley of Medjerda catchment in the North of Tunisia and known by its wide variability of runoff between dry and wet seasons, with a diffuse distribution of urban and rural areas and the abundance of undeveloped water courses often causing flooding annoying to people and infrastructure. To identify the area of intervention and to propose the suitable accommodations in these ones, we was based on a refined cartography by using GIS tool, on a detailed hydrological study of the zone of the project, on a statistical analysis of the rainfall data using the statistical software HYFRAN, besides the application of the CAQUOT model to obtain the dimensioning flows of the projected hydraulic equipments. The protection primarily consists on establishing different collectors in the five sub-catchments responsible for channeling and routing the storm water to its natural discharge point and replacing the existent equipments unable to forward the flow with a return period (RT) of twenty years. The nature of the proposed channels depends on the area that they traverse, between buried collectors inside the city to especially solve the problems of water stagnation, open concrete and masonry channels in the towns and cities, and earth channels are projected in the areas non-urbanized in order to minimize the estimated cost of the proposed equipments, instead of respecting the width of the streets while avoiding establishing collectors in the narrow ones.
What we can learn from the current vegetation for forest restoration in the Mediterranean region – a case study from the island of Asinara*
Jasmin Mantilla-Contreras, Tim Drissen, Marc Wätzold, Robin Stadtmann, Stefan Zerbe
Forests worldwide suffer from over-utilization, clearing and degradation. In the Mediterranean region, human activities have almost completely transformed native vegetation into secondary communities, leaving mostly fragmented woodlands within cultural landscapes. Those secondary habitats are often highly diverse. However, forests are key ecosystems that fulfill multiple ecosystem services, such as provision of habitats for a variety of species. Taking the island and National Park of Asinara (NW Sardinia, Italy) as an example, we address the controversy of the maintenance of open cultural landscapes and forest restoration efforts. This paper aims to compare the relative value of open to forest habitats for the provision of ecosystem services related to biodiversity. We further propose scenarios regarding forest development for Asinara Island, giving implications for implementation and management. To assess plant diversity and natural tree regeneration we conducted plot-based vegetation surveys. A germination trial was performed to evaluate the potential of the soil seed bank. Our study shows, that several secondary habitats are characterized by a high phytodiversity but that forest remnants play a crucial role regarding overall biodiversity. Since the remaining forest is highly fragmented and natural regeneration of tree species is very low management measures are needed. We therefore suggest to extend the forest area on Asinara Island by connecting remnants as initial points but also to maintain secondary habitats to obtain a heterogenic landscape mosaic. Trees will have to be introduced by seeding or planting and need special care due to water shortage, grazing pressure and insect herbivory.
Effects of changing grazing systems on the threatened genus Peripodisma (Orthoptera: Acrididae: Melanoplinae) in the Mediterranean mountains of the southern Balkans
Michèle Lemonnier-Darcemont, Vassiliki Kati, Luc Willemse, Christian Darcemont
This study examined the effects of pastoralism, including cattle grazing, on populations of three species of locally endemic and rare Peripodisma grasshoppers in calcareous grassland mountain habitats of northwestern Greece and southern Albania. The three Peripodisma species are on the IUCN Red List as near threatened, endangered, and critically endangered species, and cattle grazing had been identified as a key threat to the species. The study sites represented 70% of the known locations of Peripodisma genus. The region was historically grazed by local breeds of nomadic sheep and goats, but grazing practices had recently shifted to cattle grazing from non-local cattle breeds. We found a clear relationship between local abundance of Peripodisma and overall richness of Orthoptera communities. Orthoptera richness decreased at sites with medium to high impacts of livestock grazing. Cattle grazing had significant adverse effects on overall Orthoptera species richness and on Peripodisma abundance. Further studies are urgently needed to gather more data and information to guide grazing management and conservation planning that will provide a more balanced coexistence between livestock and Orthoptera, especially for the rare Peripodisma species that are in dire need of conservation management.