Extreme habitat loss in a Mediterranean habitat: Maytenus senegalensis subsp. europaea


Maytenus senegalensis subsp. europaea communities are unique vegetal formations in Europe. In fact, they are considered Priority Habitat by Directive 92/43/EEC. These are ecologically valuable plant communities found in the southeast of Spain. By combining modeling methods of environmental variables, historical photo-interpretation, and fieldwork, a chronosequence of the evolution of their extent of occurrence (EOO) has been reconstructed in 1957 and 2011. Results showed a strong regression range of Maytenus senegalensis subsp. europaea populations. More than 26,000 ha of EOO for this species have been lost in the province of Almería. Considering the final number of polygons, this area has been fragmented 18 times since the 1950s. These results reinforce the idea that the alteration and fragmentation of habitat due to human activities is one of the most important drivers of biodiversity loss and global change. These activities are mostly intensive greenhouse agriculture and urbanization without sustainable land planning. Knowledge about the distribution of M. senegalensis subsp. europaea is of great interest for future habitat restoration. Therefore, this would be the key species to recover these damaged ecosystems.

Plant Biosystems
Blas M. Benito
Blas M. Benito
Staff Researcher