Orophilous plant communities of Baetic range in Andalusia (south-eastern Spain): priority altitudinal-islands for conservation
Lorite, Juan; Gómez, Francisco; Mota, Juan Francisco; Valle, Francisco
The present work compares several localities in the high-mountain of the Baetic Cordilleras on the basis of plant communities, to establish priorities for conservation. The main objectives of the work are: 1) Identification of the whole set of plant communities described in the study area. 2) Analysis of the phytogeographical relationships between the summit areas. 3) Characterize a sere of ecological and management variables for each syntaxon that led us establish the main "conservation-value" groups, and the weight of each variable. 4) Calculation of values such as richness, continuous or discontinuous rarity, and complementarity. 5) Establish conclusions relevant to conservation purposes at community level in these areas.For this, 17 mountain areas have been selected, occupying a surface area of 2197.5 km2 and represented by 65 syntaxa. For each area, information has been compiled to construct two data matrices, which have been analysed with multivariate techniques of classification (cluster analysis) and ordination (correspondence analysis) as well as non-linear methods (categorical principal-component analysis; CATPCA). The priority areas for conservation have been determined by applying the concepts of richness, continuous rarity, discontinuous rarity and complementarity. In the 17 mountain areas, a series of aspects related to community ecology were analysed, such as types of habitats represented, distribution, thermotypes, ombroytpes and substrate, in addition to others related to diversity and conservation, including type of rarity, richness in endemic and/or endangered species, protection level, conservation status, and threat factors. The data analysis of presence/absence in the different massifs resulted in 4 groups: the first composed of Tejeda-Almijara, calcareous Sierra Nevada, and Gádor; the second of Grazalema, las Nieves, Loja, Lújar, Estancias, and Huétor-Harana; the third of Baza, María-Orce, Cazorla, the Subbetic, Mágina, and la Sagra; the fourth of Filabres and siliceous Sierra Nevada. The CATPCA quite clearly separated the groups with well-differentiated conservation needs on the basis of their ecology and degree conservation (this being a combination of different factors). Finally, the work concludes by discussing the results and making a series of recommendations for conservation at community level.