Please wait a minute...
Journal of Arid Land  2018, Vol. 10 Issue (1): 140-151    DOI: 10.1007/s40333-017-0076-5
Orginal Article     
Habitat, occurrence and conservation status of the Saharo-Macaronesian and Southern-Mediterranean element Fagonia cretica L. (Zygophyllaceae) in Italy
SPAMPINATO Giovanni1,*(), M MUSARELLA Carmelo1,2, CANO-ORTIZ Ana2, SIGNORINO Giuseppe1
1 Department of Agriculture, Mediterranea University of Reggio Calabria, Feo di Vito, 89124 Reggio Calabria, Italy
2 Department of Animal and Plant Biology and Ecology, Section of Botany, University of Jaén, Campus Universitario Las Lagunillas s/n, 23071 Jaén, Spain;
Download: HTML     PDF(306KB)
Export: BibTeX | EndNote (RIS)      


Fagonia cretica L. is an important component of Mediterranean dry grasslands and a rare and isolated species of Italian flora. In this study, an assessment is presented on the distribution, habitat, and conservation status of F. cretica in Italy. The results of field investigation and herbarium analysis show that this species grows in a small area within the southern Calabria region characterized by a warmest and driest Mediterranean climate on the Italian peninsula. F. cretica is a semi-desert plant species growing in Italy in only one peripheral and isolated population at the northern limit of its distribution. Plant community analysis, using the phytosociological method, shows that F. cretica grows in wintergreen perennial dry grasslands dominated by Lygeum spartum and Hyparrhenia hirta. F. cretica plant communities are located in thermo-xeric habits such as south-, southeast- and east-facing slopes on clays and sandy clays in southern Calabria. The population of F. cretica is fragmented in six neighbouring localities, with two of which belonging to a Site of Community Importance (SCI). The conservation status of F. cretica population is not very good, and is defined as “Critically Endangered” in accordance with IUCN criteria. There are many threats affecting the F. cretica population in Italy, primarily the changes in land uses due to urban expansion and reforestation with exotic plants. The southern end of the Italian peninsula hosts other plants from thermo-xeric habits that do not adapt to the current local climate. This territory can be considered as a microrefugia for plants currently distributed in the arid territory of the southern Mediterranean. These results contribute to the discussion of some conservation measures, and the possibility of establishing a micro-reserve. For all these reasons, we propose to include F. cretica in the lists of protected plant species at regional (Calabria) and country (Italy) scales in Italy.

Key wordsbiodiversity      ecology      peripheral isolated populations      phytosociology      microrefugia      southern Italy     
Received: 14 February 2017      Published: 10 February 2018
Corresponding Authors: SPAMPINATO Giovanni     E-mail:
Cite this article:

SPAMPINATO Giovanni, M MUSARELLA Carmelo, CANO-ORTIZ Ana, SIGNORINO Giuseppe. Habitat, occurrence and conservation status of the Saharo-Macaronesian and Southern-Mediterranean element Fagonia cretica L. (Zygophyllaceae) in Italy. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(1): 140-151.

URL:     OR

[1] Abeli T, Gentili R, Mondoni A, et al.2014. Effects of marginality on plant population performance. Journal of Biogeography, 41(2): 239-249.
[2] Agnesi V, Di Maggio C, Macaluso T, et al. 2000. Quaternary environmental-climatic changes in Sicily. Memorie della Società Geologica Italiana, 55: 339-344. . (in Italian)
[3] Akeroyd J.1998. Micro-reserves ‘capture’ Valencia’s special flora. Valencia, Spain: Plant Talk, 14: 20-23.
[4] Apostolova I, Dengler J, Di Pietro R, et al.2014. Dry grasslands of southern Europe: syntaxonomy, management and conservation. Hacquetia, 13(1): 5-18.
[5] Ba?ares á, Blanca G, Güemes J, et al.2010. Atlas and Red Book of the Endangered Vascular Flora of Spain. Adenda 2010. Madrid: General Management of Natural Environment and Forest Policy and Spanish Society of Plants Conservation Biology, 1-170. (in Spanish)
[6] Batanouny K, Batanouny M.1970. Autecology of common Egyptian Fagonia species. Phyton, 14(1-2): 79-92.
[7] Beier B A. Nylander J A A, Chase M W, et al. 2004. Phylogenetic relationships and biogeography of the desert plant genus Fagonia(Zygophyllaceae), inferred by parsimony and Bayesian model averaging. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution, 33(1): 91-108.
[8] Beier B A.2005. A revision of the desert shrub Fagonia (Zygophyllaceae). Systematics and Biodiversity, 3(3): 221-263.
[9] Bertini A.2010. Pliocene to Pleistocene palynoflora and vegetation in Italy: state of the art. Quaternary International, 225(1): 5-24.
[10] Bivona Bernardi A.1806. Sicularum Plantarum. Centuria Prima. Palermo: Phylippum Barravecchia, 1-84. (in Latin)
[11] Bonfiglio L, Mangano G, Marra A C, et al.2002. Pleistocene Calabrian and Sicilian bioprovinces. Geobios, 35(Suppl. 1): 29-39.
[12] Braun-Blanquet J.1964. Plant Sociology. The Study of Plant Communities. Vienna and New York: Springer, 1-865. (in German)
[13] Bredenkamp G J, Spada F, Kazmierczak E.2002. On the origin of northern and southern hemisphere grasslands. Plant Ecology, 163(2): 209-229.
[14] Brullo S, Scelsi F, Spampinato G.2001. The Vegetation of Aspromonte. A phytosociological Study. Reggio Calabria: Laruffa Editore, 1-368. (in Italian)
[15] Capraro L, Asioli A, Backman J, et al.2005. Climatic patterns revealed by pollen and oxygen isotope records across the Matuyama-Brunhes Boundary in the central Mediterranean (southern Italy). Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 247(1): 159-182.
[16] CASMEZ (Cassa del Mezzoggorno). 1968-1969. Geological map of Calabria at 1:25,000 scale. F. 263-I N.O. Ercolano (Napoli): Poligrafica and Cartevalori. (in Italian)
[17] Conti F, Manzi A, Pedrotti F.1997. Regional Red Lists of Italian Plants. Camerino: WWF Italia, Società Botanica Italiana, 1-139. (in Italian)
[18] Conti F, Abbate G, Alessandrini A, et al. 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora. Rome: Palombi Editore, 1-420.
[19] Díez-Garretas B, Asensi A.1999. Syntaxonomic analysis of the Andropogon-rich grasslands (Hyparrhenietalia hirtae) in the western Mediterranean region. Folia Geobotanica, 34(3): 307-320.
[20] Dobrowski S Z.2011. A climatic basis for microrefugia: the influence of terrain on climate. Global Change Biology, 17(2): 1022-1035.
[21] Giardina G, Raimondo F M, Spadaro V.2007. A catalogue of plants growing in Sicily. Bocconea, 20: 5-582.
[22] Guarino R.2006. Origin and evolution of the Mediterranean dry grasslands. Berichte der Reinhold Tu?xen Gesellschaft, 18: 195-206.
[23] Gussone J.1827. Florae Siculae Prodromus Sive Plantarum in Sicilia Ulteriori Nascentium Enumeratio Secundum Systema Linneanum Disposita. Napoli: Ex Regia typographia, 1-586. (in Latin)
[24] Halada L, Evans D, Rom?o C, et al. 2011. Which habitats of European importance depend on agricultural practices? Biodiversity and Conservation, 20(11): 2365-2378.
[25] Incarbona A, Zarcone G, Agate M, et al.2010. A multidisciplinary approach to reveal the Sicily climate and environment over the last 20000 years. Central European Journal of Geosciences, 2(2): 71-82.
[26] IUCN.2012. IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria Version 3.1 (2nd ed.). Gland, Switzerland & Cambridge, UK: IUCN.
[27] Jackson S T, Overpeck J T.2000. Responses of plant populations and communities to environmental changes of the late quaternary. Paleobiology, 26(4): 194-220.
[28] Jones B, Gliddon C, Good J E G.2001. The conservation of variation in geographically peripheral populations: Lloydia serotina (Liliaceae) in Britain. Biological Conservation, 101(2): 147-156.
[29] Laguna E, Deltoro V I, Pèrez-Botella J, et al. 2004. The role of small reserves in plant conservation in a region of high diversity in eastern Spain. Biological Conservation, 119(3): 421-426.
[30] Lanfranco E. 1989. The flora. In: Schembri P J, Sultana J. Red Data Book for the Maltese Islands. Valletta, Malta: Department of Information, 5-70.
[31] Leppig G, White J W.2006. Conservation of peripheral plant populations in California. Madro?o, 53(3): 264-274.
[32] MATT (Ministero dell’Ambiente e della Tutela del Territorio e del Mare). 2013. Repertory of the protected Italian flora. [2016-01-15]. . (in Italian)
[33] Médail F, Quézel P.1997. Hot-spots analysis for conservation of plant biodiversity in the Mediterranean Basin. Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden, 84(1): 112-127.
[34] Mendoza-Fernández A, Pérez-García F J, Martínez-Hernández F, et al. 2014. Threatened plants of arid ecosystems in the Mediterranean Basin: a case study of the south-eastern Iberian Peninsula. Oryx, 48(4): 548-554.
[35] Navarro T, Alados C L, Cabezudo B.2006. Changes in plant functional types in response to goat and sheep grazing in two semi-arid shrublands of SE Spain. Journal of Arid Environments, 64(2): 298-322.
[36] Nicotra L. 1908. Fagonia cretica in the Italian continent. Bullettino della Società Botanica Italiana, 1908: 67-69. (in Italian)
[37] Panuccio M R, Fazio A, Musarella C M, et al.2017. Seed germination and antioxidant pattern in Lavandula multifida (Lamiaceae): a comparison between core and peripheral populations. Plant Biosystems, doi: 10.1080/11263504.2017.1297333.
[38] Pignatti S.1978. Evolutionary trends in Mediterranean flora and vegetation. Vegetatio, 37(3): 175-185.
[39] Pignatti S.1982. Flora d’Italia. Bologna: Edagricole, 2: 19. (in Italian)
[40] Pignatti S.2011. Western Sicily as an interface between the African continent and Europe. Naturalista Siciliano, S. IV, 35(1): 3-8. (in Italian)
[41] Podani J. 2001. SYN-TAX 2000. Computer programs for data analysis in ecology and systematics. User’s manual. Budapest: Scientia Publishing, 1-53.
[42] Podani J.2006. Braun-Blanquet’s legacy and data analysis in vegetation science. Journal of Vegetation Science, 17(1): 113-117.
[43] Pottier-Alapetite G.1979. Flora of Tunisia: Angiosperms-Dicotyledones. Tunis: Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Ministry of Agriculture, 1-651. (in French)
[44] Presl J S, Presl C B.1822. Deliciae Pragenses Historiam Naturalem Spectantes. Prague: Sumtibus Calve, 1-264. (in Latin)
[45] Privitera M, Puglisi M, Sambataro R.2002. Phytogeographic considerations on the bryophyte flora of the southern Aspromonte badlands (Calabria). Braun Blanquetia, 31: 55-57. (in Italian)
[46] Quézel P, Santa S.1962. New Flora of Algeria and the Southern Desert Regions, 2. Pairs: CNRS, 1-1170. (in French)
[47] Quézel P, Médail F.2003. Ecology and Biogeography of Mediterranean Basin Forests. Paris: Elsevier, 1-573. (in French)
[48] Rivas-Martínez S, Rivas-Saenz S. 1996-2017. Worldwide bioclimatic classification system. Phytosociological research center, Spain. [2016-01-15]. .
[49] Rivas-Martínez S, Fernández-González F, Loidi J, et al. 2001. Syntaxonomical checklist of vascular plant communities of Spain and Portugal to association level. Itinera Geobotanica, 14: 5-341.
[50] Sciandrello S, Guarino R, Minissale P, et al. 2015. The endemic vascular flora of Peloritani Mountains (NE Sicily): plant functional traits and phytogeographical relationships in the most isolated and fragmentary micro-plate of the Alpine orogeny. Plant Biosystems, 149(5): 838-854.
[51] Scott J M, Goble D D, Haines A M, et al. 2010. Conservation-reliant species and the future of conservation. Conservation Letters, 3(2): 91-97.
[52] Signorino G, Cannavò S, Crisafulli A, et al. 2011. Fagonia cretica L. Informatore Botanico Italiano, 43(2): 381-458. (in Italian)
[53] Song L, Bao X M, Liu X J, et al.2012. Impact of nitrogen addition on plant community in a semi-arid temperate steppe in China. Journal of Arid Land, 4(1): 3-10.
[54] Spampinato G.2014. Guide to the Aspromonte Flora. Reggio Calabria: Laruffa Editore, 1-448. (in Italian)
[55] Van der Maarel E.1979. Transformation of cover-abundance values in phytosociology and its effects on community similarity. Vegetatio, 39(2): 97-114.
[56] Walter H, Lieth H.1967. Klimadiagramm Weltatlas. Jena: VEB Gustav Fischer Verlag.
[57] Weber H E, Moravec J, Theurillat J P.2000. International code of phytosociological nomenclature (3rd ed.). Journal of Vegetation Science, 11(5): 739-768.
[58] Zahran M A, Willis A J.2009. The Vegetation of Egypt. Netherlands: Springer, 1-437.
[1] LI Li, GAO Lei, LIU Yonghong, FANG Baozhu, HUANG Yin, Osama A A MOHAMAD, Dilfuza EGAMBERDIEVA, LI Wenjun, MA Jinbiao. Diversity of cultivable endophytic bacteria associated with halophytes in Xinjiang of China and their plant beneficial traits[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(8): 790-800.
[2] Adilov BEKZOD, Shomurodov HABIBULLO, FAN Lianlian, LI Kaihui, MA Xuexi, LI Yaoming. Transformation of vegetative cover on the Ustyurt Plateau of Central Asia as a consequence of the Aral Sea shrinkage[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2021, 13(1): 71-87.
[3] DagnenetSULTAN, TSUNEKAWA Atsushi, HAREGEWEYN Nigussie, ADGO Enyew, TSUBO Mitsuru, T MESHESHA Derege, MASUNAGA Tsugiyuki, AKLOG Dagnachew, A FENTA Ayele, EBABU Kindiye. Efficiency of soil and water conservation practices in different agro-ecological environments in the Upper Blue Nile Basin of Ethiopia[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2018, 10(2): 249-263.
[4] ZHANG Jinghui, HUANG Yongmei, CHEN Huiying, GONG Jirui, QI Yu, YANG Fei, . Effects of grassland management on the community structure, aboveground biomass and stability of a temperate steppe in Inner Mongolia, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(3): 422-433.
[5] WU Jing, QIAN Jianqiang, HOU Xianzhang, Carlos A BUSSO, LIU Zhimin, Xing Baozhen. Spatial variation of plant species richness in a sand dune field of northeastern Inner Mongolia, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2016, 8(3): 434-442.
[6] Partha P DHAR, Abdul A AL-QARAWI, Mohammed A U MRIDHA. Arbuscular mycorrhizal fungal association in Asteraceae plants growing in the arid lands of Saudi Arabia[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2015, 7(5): 676-686.
[7] Wendy TROWBRIDGE, Thomas ALBRIGHT, Scot FERGUSON, Jun LI, Barry PERRYMAN, Robert S NOWAK. Explaining patterns of species dominance in the shrub steppe systems of the Junggar Basin (China) and Great Basin (USA)[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2013, 5(4): 415-427.
[8] DaoYuan ZHANG, HuiLiang LIU, Xiang SHI, JianCheng WANG, YongKuan ZHANG. Limitations on the recruitment of the rare sand shrubby legume Eremosparton songoricum (Fabaceae) in Gurbantunggut Desert, China[J]. Journal of Arid Land, 2011, 3(2): 75-84.