The impact of climate change on the local endemic plants of Troodos National Forest Park

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The Mediterranean Basin is characterised as an area of important biodiversity, which is however expected to be greatly affected by climate change. According to recent estimates, the species which are expected to be affected the most are those found only at higher elevations, and species endemic to islands.

Cyprus lies at the eastern end of the Mediterranean and its topography is characterized by the presence of two mountain ranges, Troodos and Pentadaktylos. The Troodos mountain range dominates the central-western part and has the island's highest peak (1952 m). In the central and highest part of the mountain range lies the Troodos National Forest Park (TNFP) which is the richest floristic region of Cyprus. TNFP hosts more than 780 plant taxa, of which 72 are endemic (50% of the endemic taxa of Cyprus), while 11 are local endemics.

Aiming to assess the impact of climate change on the distribution and survival of the species, a multidimensional control study was applied of the effect of various parameters on the critical stages of their reproduction. The work was carried out through the project with protocol number AEIFORIA/FYSI/0308 (BE) / 07, which was funded by the Research Promotion Foundation. The project was implemented in the period 1/9/2009 to 31/10/2012, with the collaboration of three organizations:

  • Frederick Research Center, Cyprus

  • National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece.

  • Department of Forests, Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment, Cyprus.

In the framework of this study, a recording of the locations of the subpopulations of the species took place, along with the reproductive potential and relative reproductive success of individuals from three altitudinal positions (low, medium and high altitude). Emphasis was placed on investigating the seed germination from subpopulations from different altitudes, in existing and "future" conditions of temperature (estimations for the period from 2071 to 2100).

The study of the effect of climate change on seed germination is considered particularly important, since the germination process is irreversible (the most resistant [sperm] in the most vulnerable [seedling] stage), very critical and crucial in the reproductive cycle of plants.

The results from the experiments were used to estimate the impact of climate change on the distribution and survival of the species, while suggestions for addressing those impacts were also prepared.


 

The species studied in the framework of the project are presented in the following table:

S/N

SPECIES

FAMILY

ENDEMISM

1

Acinos troodi

Lamiaceae

LE

2

Allium exaltatum

Alliaceae

CE

3

Alyssum troodi

Brassicaceae

LE

4

Astragalus echinus var. chionistrae

Fabaceae

LE

5

Crocus cyprius

Iridaceae

CE

6

Cynoglossum troodi

Boraginaceae

LE

7

Lactuca tetrantha

Asteraceae

LE

8

Onosma troodi

Boraginaceae

CE

9

Salvia willeana

Lamiaceae

LE

10

Saponaria cypria

Caryophyllaceae

CE

LE= Local Endemic of the National Forest Park of Troodos                  CE = Cyprus Endemic


 

                                                                

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