Ensuring the survival of endangered
plants in the Mediterranean

Conservation and Management of Plant Diversity in Hotspots


IV PhD. Summer School (Montarbu di Seui, 2013 June 17th -21st)

17th June 2013

Here we are writing on our experience of the 2013 PhD. Summer School that took place from June 17th to 21th in the area of the “Tacchi d’Ogliastra”,. Again we had the privilege of being hosted in a guest house of the Forest Agency of Sardinia, in this case in that of the Caserma Ula located in the forest of Montarbu. Moreover, this Summer School has been possible also thanks to the help of the Regional Forestry Corps that made available human resources and vehicles. But no more chatting and let’s start telling how it went.

After a brief presentation and the introduction on the course held by Gianluigi Bacchetta (University of Cagliari), Rino Giotta (ex commander of the control station Villagrande Strisaili - CFVA) proceeded with a slide show with the title “Tacchi d’Ogliastra”. During this presentation we have been shown the main botanical and geographical features of the area we would have visited in the following days.

18th June 2013

Most of the day has been dedicated to the lecture session. In the morning it was first the turn of Frédéric Medail (University of Aix-Marseille) who delivered a lecture entitled “From species hotspots to evolutionary hotspots: how to preserve”. Then followed Eva Cañadas Sánchez (University of Cagliari) with a presentation concerning “Hotspots within hotspots: Endemic plant richness, environmental predictors, and implications for conservation”. Subsequently, Michela Marignani (University of Cagliari) presented the work entitled “Perspectives and issues linked to the use of different taxonomic groups and habitats to the definition of Important Plant Areas” while, the first half of the day ended with a lecture by Gian Pietro Giusso del Galdo (University of Catania) on the “High mountains of the big Mediterranean islands: threatened hot-spots?”.

In the evening, after the lunch break, Giuseppe Fenu (University of Cagliari) held a lecture entitled “IUCN Assessment at regional level of the endemic threatened species in Sardinia” and then followed by Emmanuele Farris (University of Sassari) with a presentation entitled “Genetic and morphological differentiation and hybridization in Sardinian endemic plants”.

After the lecture session, we have been took to the Ardasai Archaeological site. This Nuragic complex, which is localized in the Seui municipality at 1015 m a.s.l., is characterized by the presence of the ruins of a typical tower and a sacred spring. Given that there grows a rich population of Euphorbia characias L. we took advantage of it so we collected an accession of its seeds. Not far from there we could visit the ruins of a so called “tomba dei giganti” (giants’ grave), a kind of funerary monument that characterizes the nuragic period.

19th June 2013

The whole day was devoted to excursions. In the morning each of us decided to follow one of the two groups the company was divided in, the first directed towards the ledge of Montarbu while the second one to the ridge.

The area of the Forest of Montarbu covers an area of 2,765 hectares and is one of the most beautiful and best preserved forests in Sardinia and it is characterized by some reliefs called "tonneri" (the highest is Punta Margiani Pubusa standing 1324 m a.s.l.). Montarbu Forest has a remarkable naturalistic-environmental value for its morphological characteristics and for its fauna and flora. In fact, regarding its fauna, it is populated, among others, by mouflons, wild boars, foxes, martens, weasels, dormouses and fallow deers, as well as some couples of the golden eagle. However, we were focused especially on the flora of the Montarbu and it did not disappointed us at all! The substrate along the two tracks we followed is made mainly of limestone. Conversely it is possible to find many taxa that are typical of the calcareous cliffs and glareicolous habitats that are suited to grow on calcium carbonate substrates.

During the excursion along the ledge of Montarbu called “Su Passu Malu” we encountered many endemic species such as: Anthyllis hermanniae L. ssp. ichnusae Brullo & Giusso, Aquilegia nugorensis Arrigoni & Nardi; Arenaria balearica L., Armeria sardoa Spreng. ssp. sardoa, Asperula pumila Moris, Clinopodium sardoum (Asch. & Levier) Peruzzi & F. Conti, Digitalis purpurea L. var. gyspergerae (Rouy) Fiori, Echium anchusoides Bacch., Brullo & Selvi, Galium schmidii Arrigoni, Helianthemum morisianum Bertol., Helichrysum saxatile Moris ssp. saxatile, Ophrys panattensis Scrugli, Cogoni & Passei, Polygala sardoa Chodat, Potentilla caulescens L. ssp. nebrodensis (Zimmeter) Arrigoni, Scorzonera callosa Moris and Sesleria insularis Sommier ssp. barbaricina Arrigoni. Beyond the endemics, we could also find other valuable taxa such as Erinus alpinus L. We could also find a beautiful Natural monument, the millennial “Ilixi 'e Canali”, one of the most ancient and majestic oaks of Sardinia (6.10 m in circumference and 25 meters in height).

The excursion along the ridge of Montarbu called “Pirastru trottu – Caserma Ula”, that, to tell the truth, was a little bit more relaxing than that along the ledge, we started with a short climb through a path where we walked in a wood of the Aceri monspessulani-Quercetum ilicis, a typical wood of the supramediterranean belt. Then, we arrived to the top of Punta Margiani Pubusa where woods were substituted by the vegetation of the orophilous calcareous meadows and we were struck by the exceptionally rich flora of this biotope. Along the walk on the ridge we could find, among others, Asperula pumila Moris, Galium schmidii Arrigoni, Helianthemum morisianum Bertol., Hypochaeris sardoa Bacch., Brullo & Terrasi and Scorzonera callosa Moris together with few individuals of the non endemic but still rare and precious Erinus alpinus L. After a short break and having admired the extraordinary panorama of the River Flumendosa valley from the edge of the ”tonneri”, we restarted walking towards the descent. At the end of the steep descent the route became flatter and ran along a stream and through a riparian wood of the Cyclamino repandi-Ostryetum carpinifoliae where some scattered individuals of Taxus baccata L. grew. Another break at a spring of fresh water and another surprise with the beautiful Aquilegia nugorensis Arrigoni & Nardi before returning to our accommodation for lunch.

In the afternoon we went to Perda ‘e Liana, a natural monument which is located in the Gairo municipality. Perda ‘e Liana is a “tacco” made of limestone, dating to the Jurassic era and formed as a result of water erosion over millions of years over a siliceous metamorphic basement. It lies on the Pranedda plateau and, standing 1,293 m a.s.l., it is the highest “tacco” of the Ogliastra area. On the brief climb to Pranedda, we walked through a maquis of Cistus sp. pl., some aromatic herbs such as Thymus herba-barona Loisel. and Rosmarinus officinalis L., and other bushes typical of Mediterranean scrub such as Arbutus unedo L., Phillyrea angustifolia L., Pistacia lentiscus L., Erica arborea L. and E. scoparia L. while among the tree it was possible to find Acer monspessulanum L. and Quercus ilex L. (Aceri monspessulani-Quercetum ilicis). Getting to the plateau at the basement of Perda ‘e Liana we could do nothing but remaining astonished by the majesty of this natural monument and, at the same time, we were pleased to observe some endemic taxa such as Campanula forsythii (Arcangeli) Podlech, Limonium morisianum Arrigoni, Micromeria filiformis (Aiton) Benth. ssp. cordata (Bertol.) Pignatti, Ophrys exaltata Ten. ssp. morisii (Martelli) Del Prete, Orchis mascula (L.) L. ssp. ichnusae Corrias, Plantago sarda C. Presl, Saxifraga cervicornis Viv. together with other notable taxa typical of the rocky cliffs and the glareicolous habitats such as Amelanchier ovalis Medik., Helianthemum croceum (Desf.) Pers. Rhamnus alpina L. and Sorbus aria (L.) Crantz ssp. aria. The most courageous of us dared to climb up to the top of Perda ‘e Liana where the endemics Dianthus cyathophorus Moris and Ptychotis sardoa Pignatti & Metlesics grow. Those who remained (and rested!) at the basement of Perda ‘e Liana had the chance to see Anthriscus caucalis M. Bieb. in one of the few areas where it grows in Sardinia while, on the way back home, we found meadows full of the not-so-common Vulpia sicula (J. Presl) Link and the tiny Logfia minima (Sm.) Dumort. and Sedum andegavense (DC.) Desv.

20th June 2013

Early in the morning we have been took to Perdu Asuni where we started the field trip to Erriu ‘e Nugi. The excursion started with a mild climb and then with a steeper descent to the bed of the River Flumendosa. In the first part of the trek the vegetation was mainly shrub-like but with important endemic herb such as Glechoma sardoa (Bég.) Bég. and Scrophularia oblongifolia Loisel. Then, along the descent, the maquis was suddenly replaced by micro and meso-wood of Quercus ilex L. where it was still possible to observe again Armeria sardoa Spreng. ssp. sardoa and, never seen before during this Summer School, Dianthus sardous Bacch., Brullo, Casti & Giusso. Once arrived at the river Flumendosa the vegetation the river bed was, of course, mainly riparian with Oenanthe crocata L., Salix sp. and Tamarix sp. together with the endemics, but widespread, Carex microcarpa Bertol. ex Moris and the narrow endemics Rhamnus persicifolia Moris. Another valuable taxon with small area of occupancy such as Staphisagria picta (Willd.) Jabbour grew in the gravel deposit of the river.

After a necessary and pleasant rest in the shade of the oaks along the river we have been took for a brief visit to the complex of Nuraghe Ruinas and then at Caserma Ula for our last night in the area of the Tacchi.

21st June 2013

In the morning we left the guesthouses and we went to Seui for the Workshop on “Ten years of conservation and management of plant diversity in Sardinia: results and perspectives” held in the building of the Centro Polivalente “Is Minadoris”. Another important purpose of the day was the celebration of the tenth anniversary of the foundation of Centro Conservazione Biodiversità (CCB) together with that of the Banca del Germoplasma della Sardegna (BG-SAR).

The Workshop started with the welcome by the Mayor of Seui and the greeting of the Authorities. Then the Mayor proceeded with the presentation of “The program guidelines for the establishment of the Park Montarbu Riu de-Nuxi, funded by the Department of the Environment Defense of RAS (Regione Autonoma della Sardegna, Autonomous Region of Sardinia, N.D.R.)”. After the introduction of the work by Gianluigi Bacchetta (University of Cagliari), it was the turn of Laura Angius and Gianluca Orrù (RAS) who showed a presentation on “The report on the conservation status of biodiversity in Sardinia, from knowledge to planning”. Subsequently, Salvatore Mele (Forest Agency of Sardinia) showed “The activities of the Authority Sardinian Forest and conservation of the natural ecosystems”; then followed Franca Congiu (Regional Forestry Corps) with a presentation concerning “The Forestry corps and Environmental Surveillance (CFVA) and the biodiversity conservation.

After the coffee break, Giuseppe Fenu and Donatella Cogoni (University of Cagliari) proceeded with a presentation entitled “Strategies of conservation in situ for endemic and threatened taxa of Sardinian flora implemented by Centro Conservazione Biodiversità of the University of Cagliari”. Then Gianluigi Bacchetta presented the work entitled “Studies of ex situ conservation at the Sardinian Germplasm Bank (BG-SAR): 10 years of activity”. Then Tiziana Ulian (Millennium Seed Bank, Royal Botanic Garden, Kew) followed with a presentation concerning “Kew Millennium Seed Bank and Sardinian Germplasm Bank: results of 8 years of collaboration for the study and the conservation of native taxa of Sardinia”. Subsequently, Antoni Marzo and Pablo Ferrer-Gallego (CIEF, Centro para la Investigación y Experimentación Forestal) held a lecture entitled “The CIEF (Forestry Center of Applied Research), a center dedicated to the genetic resources of the flora and habitat restoration: 10 years of collaboration with the CCB within the network GENMEDA”. The first half of the day ended with a round table debate on the topics that have been treated.

After bringing the curtain down on the workshop, the Municipal Administration of Seui has been so polite to offer a feast with some typical Sardinian food that took place in the hot early afternoon of Seui.

So the 2013 Summer School in the area of the Tacchi d’Ogliastra ended.

Posted at Jul 30, 2013 | By : |