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Perspectives and challenges in the restoration and conservation of two isolated habitats: gypsum and cliffs

Presenting person: Prof. Juan Lorite Moreno, Botanical Department, University of Granada, Spain (Homepage)
Th. 2024-04-25 (12:15-13:45), H6, Geo

This talk aims to provide an overview of the challenges and options for the restoration and conservation of two singular habitats: gypsum outcrops and cliffs, both for their ecological features, as well as for their biodiversity, particularly their plant diversity.

Gypsum soils in drylands support important habitats for conservation of unique specialized flora that must be preserved. Gypsum habitats are altered in different degrees by human activities. However, several ecological issues hinder the recovery of gypsum habitats. We aimed to explore the restoration options to assist in the recovery of gypsicolous vegetation affected by quarrying, as the main threatened factor of these gypsum habitats. We assessed habitat current conditions and studied local native plant communities to establish references for restoration, addressed the effect of gypsum on plant development, determined the suitability of various soil treatments and revegetation methods, and explored the potential of lichen translocation to recover gypsum biological soil crusts. Also, we performed an economic assesment of different restoration options, analysing the effectiveness of the most feasible options comparing both, ecological success (survival) and economic [AT1] (costs).

Worldwide, cliffs harbor diverse endemic plants, endangered species, and rock-dwelling birds and bats, often housing 35-66% of the endemic plant species of most countries. Despite being relatively undisturbed by humans, the exponential rise in climbing's popularity has led to 'cliff overcrowding.' Climbing, once a niche sport, now boasts over 50 million enthusiasts globally, impacting many cliffs and jeopardizing endemic species by degrading their habitats and reducing genetic diversity. This loss imperils the ability of cliff species to adapt to climate changes, increasing extinction risks, particularly for plants with limited dispersal abilities. Unfortunately, cliffs remain scientifically little studied and have been overlooked so far in global agendas for biodiversity conservation. To mitigate future losses of species and genetic diversity, we urgently need more data on cliff biodiversity, as well as more research linking climbing pressure and cliff ecosystem health.


*** eingeladen von BayCEER-Mitglied Carl Beierkuhnlein

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