BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION IN ETNA VOLCANO
Etna volcano with a wide variety of flowers over 1055
2020 NOV - dati sorprendenti da ricerca di Catania University: ETNA ospita un patrimonio floristico complessivo di 1.055 specie, 92 delle quali endemiche, di notevole valore scientifico -naturalistico, con una distribuzione geografica piuttosto limitata.
🔹29 delle 92 specie sono edemismi stretti - esclusivi di Etna vulcano,
mentre le altre sono presenti in Sicilia & anche in aree endemiche del Sud Italia.
🔹La ricerca condotta dai docenti Gianpietro Giusso Del Galdo - Pietro Minissale e Saverio Sciandrello del dipart. di Scienze biologiche, Geologiche e Ambientali di Catania University pubblicata su rivista scientifica intern PeerJ.
Con questo studio possibile aggiornare le conoscenze del passato evidenziando il notevole Patrimonio - capitale floristico di Etna sulla base di migliaia di dati raccolti negli ultimi 20 Anni.
🔹🔹Lo studio permette di chiarire la distribuzione spaziale della flora vascolare spontanea altitudinale, di confrontare la diversità floristica del vulcano Etna con quella di altri territori Mediterranei, di identificare le aree ad alta intensità di specie endemiche esclusive e di fornire un inventario completo e aggiornato della flora vascolare spontanea.
////// ENGLISH VERSION ///// 🔹🔹
🔹BIODIVERSITY AND CONSERVATION IN ETNA VOLCANO 🔹
Vascular plant species diversity of Mt. Etna (Sicily): endemicity, insularity and spatial patterns along the altitudinal gradient of the highest active volcano in Europe //// Abstract
Altitudinal variation in vascular plant richness and endemism is crucial for the conservation of biodiversity. Territories featured by a high species richness may have a low number of endemic species, but not necessarily in a coherent pattern. The main aim of our research is to perform an in-depth survey on the distribution patterns of vascular plant species richness and endemism along the elevation gradient of Mt. Etna, the highest active volcano in Europe.
We used all the available data (literature, herbarium and seed collections), plus hundreds of original (G Giusso, P Minissale, S Sciandrello, pers. obs., 2010–2020) on the occurrence of the Etna plant species. Mt. Etna (highest peak at 3,328 mt a.s.l.) was divided into 33 belts 100 m wide and the species richness of each altitudinal range was calculated as the total number of species per interval. In order to identify areas with high plant conservation priority, 29 narrow endemic species (EE) were investigated through hot spot analysis using the “Optimized Hot Spot Analysis” tool available in the ESRI ArcGIS software package.
Overall against a floristic richness of about 1,055 taxa, 92 taxa are endemic, of which 29 taxa are exclusive (EE) of Mt. Etna, 27 endemic of Sicily (ES) and 35 taxa endemic of Italy (EI). Plant species richness slowly grows up to 1,000 m, then decreases with increasing altitude, while endemic richness shows an increasing percentage incidence along the altitudinal gradient (attributed to the increased isolation of higher elevation). The highest endemic richness is recorded from 2,000 up to 2,800 m a.s.l., while the highest narrow endemic richness (EE) ranges from 2,500 up to 2,800 m a.s.l. Life-form patterns clearly change along altitudinal gradient. In regard to the life-form of the endemics, the most represented are the hemicryptophytes, annual plants (therophytes) are prevailing at lower altitudes and show a decreasing trend with increasing elevation, while chamaephytes are featured by an increasing trend up to 3,100 m of altitude. Furthermore, the results of the hotspot analysis emphasize the high plant conservation priority areas localized in oro-mediterranean (1,800–2,400 m s.l.m.) and cryo-mediterranean (2,400–2,800 m) bioclimatic belts, in correspondence of the oldest substrates of the volcano.
🔹🔹 Conclusions 🔹🔹
High plant speciation rate caused by increasing isolation with elevation is the most plausible explanation for the largest active volcano in Europe.
The high degree of endemic species on Mt. Etna is linked to its geographical, geological and climatic isolation, all important drivers of speciation acting on the population gene flows.
The hot spot map obtained represents a useful support for help environmental decision makers to identify priority areas for plant conservation.
photo Etna Saponaria
Read more Links doi.org/10.7717/peerj.9875
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