Botrychium simplex 

Scope: Europe
Language: English

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Polypodiopsida Ophioglossales Ophioglossaceae

Scientific Name: Botrychium simplex E.Hitchc.
Common Name(s):
English Dwarf Moonwort
French Bortyche simple
Bortychium simplex E.Hitchc. ssp. kannenbergii (Klinsm.) Fraser-Jenk.
Botrychium kannenbergii Klinsm.
Botrychium reuteri Payot
Botrychium tenebrosum A.A.Eaton
Taxonomic Source(s): Christenhusz, M. and Raab-Straube, E. von. 2013. Polypodiopsida. Euro+Med Plantbase - the information resource for Euro-Mediterranean plant diversity. (Accessed: 2015).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered A2c (Regional assessment) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2017
Date Assessed: 2016-06-01
Assessor(s): Christenhusz, M., Bento Elias, R., Dyer, R., Ivanenko, Y., Rouhan, G., Rumsey, F. & Väre, H.
Reviewer(s): García, M. & Troìa, A.
Contributor(s): Bilz, M.
European regional assessment: Endangered (EN)
EU 28 regional assessment: Endangered (EN)

Botrychium simplex is a rare species with a scattered distribution throughout Europe. Subpopulations are small, often consisting of single individuals. It is listed as threatened on all available national Red Lists and the subpopulations are declining almost everywhere. In a few countries, the species is only known from one single locality, sometimes a single individual. The main threats are changes to its habitat such as reforestation, abandonment of grazing activities which lead to overgrowth and competition, or intensification of agriculture which leads to eutrophication. Extreme fluctuations in the population size have been reported in Fennoscandia. The number of mature individuals seems to be less than 10,000 in total as often only very few individuals are found. As it is extinct in several countries and several Red Lists show a higher threatened category than on earlier assessments, it is inferred that its extent of occurrence (EOO), area of occupancy (AOO) and habitat quality have been reduced more than 50% the last three generations (60-90 years).
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This fern species has a circumpolar northern temperate and boreal distribution, being found in Europe, Asia and North America. In Europe, it occurs mainly near the coasts up to 65° N in Sweden, Finland, Denmark, the Baltic States, Poland and Russia. It is present in Iceland and southern Norway and is found as a glacial relict species in central European mountains (France, Switzerland, Italy). In the south it extends to the eastern Pyrenees in France, Corsica and Slovenia (Käsermann and Moser 1999). It is not clear whether this species is present in the Spanish Pyrenees (Castroviejo et al. 1986).

In France, it occurs at 10 localities in Corsica (massif du San Petrone, Niolu), Midi-Pyrénées (Aveyron, plateau de l’Aubrac), Pyrénées-Orientales (massif du Carlit); Rhônes-Alpes (Isère, Haute-Savoie, vallée de Chamonix) and Savoie (Beaufortin) between 1,300 and 2,000 m. In Germany, it is known from only one site near Paderborn, where it was rediscovered in 1993 (Frey et al. 2006, Bundesamt für Naturschutz 2008). In Greece, there is only one locality in Smolikas, in the northwest close to the Albanian border at 2,000 m. There are two stations in Italy (Trentino Alto Adige) and one in Lithuania and Latvia. The species is extinct in Belgium (formerly in Flanders and Brussels; Van Landuyt et al. 2006), the Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, Slovenia and Switzerland. In Poland there were approximately 25 known localities in the past of which only two were found until the 1980s: Wierzchowo Lake near Szczecinek and at Kiedrowickie Lake near Lipnica in Bory Tucholskie (Tucholskie Forests). Both localities have extensively been searched during the last 20 years but the species has not been found again and therefore this plant is considered as possibly extinct in Poland (Kalinka and Nowak 2004). In Slovenia, one locality was found in the mid 20th century in the Julian Alps, but this is now extinct. In Switzerland, one locality has been confirmed but in 1970-1980, three to four others have been observed at elevations of 1,500-2,300 m. The species has not been recorded there since 1971 and is therefore believed to have disappeared. However, it is possible that there might be undetected subpopulations (Käsermann and Moser 1999).

The area of occupancy (AOO) in Europe is only ca 660 km², but this includes historical collections and thus is likely to be an overestimation. In the EU 28, the AOO is ca 400 km².
Countries occurrence:
Austria; Belarus; Denmark; Estonia; Finland; France (Corsica, France (mainland)); Germany; Greece (Greece (mainland)); Iceland; Italy (Italy (mainland)); Latvia; Lithuania; Norway; Russian Federation (European Russia, Kaliningrad, Northwest European Russia); Sweden
Possibly extinct:
Belgium; Poland; Slovenia; Switzerland
Regionally extinct:
Czech Republic
Additional data:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2:664
Lower elevation limit (metres):850
Upper elevation limit (metres):2300
Range Map:161906-1

Population [top]

Population:Due to changes in land management and agricultural practices, this species is disappearing from many sites, although it is difficult to monitor because plants do not emerge every year. Individuals are difficult to count due to their small size and irregular appearance. The following population information is available for different countries (Commission of European Communities 2009):
  • Austria: 400-500 individuals
  • Denmark: 118-237 individuals
  • Finland: 116 individuals with extreme fluctuations
  • France: less than 200 individuals in 14 localities in 14 communes
  • Italy: the subpopulation is stable and there is a total of 15 individuals between the two sites
  • Lithuania: only one single individual is known
  • Norway: less than 2,500 individuals in total that undergo extreme fluctuations (Artsdatabanken 2010)
  • Sweden: 2,000 individuals with extreme fluctuations
The subpopulations are declining in most of its range. It is suspected that the species has declined by at least 50% over the last three generations (60-90 years). Furthermore, extreme fluctuations in the population size have been reported in Fennoscandia and it is assumed that this occurs through the whole of the distribution.
Current Population Trend:Decreasing
Additional data:
Extreme fluctuations:Yes

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:Botrychium simplex prefers fresh, moderately dry to wet, alkali-poor, sandy clay soils. Its habitats are acidic, oligotrophic mat-grass communities, heather and gorse heathlands, meadows, pastureland, shrubland, the banks of rivers and lakes and the edges of bogs and forests. It mainly occurs as single plants, but it produces many spores. The establishment of this fern is dependent on symbiotic fungi and it is therefore difficult to propagate it via spores or vegetatively, which makes reintroduction difficult if not impossible (Komarov 1968, Käsermann and Moser 1999, Klotz et al. 2002, Frey et al. 2006, Y. Ivanenko pers. comm. 2016). Its elevation limits are 850-2,300 m. 
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat:Yes
Generation Length (years):20-30

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: This species is not used.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): The modification of cultivation practices such as the abandonment of pastoral systems or the increased use of fertilisers is threatening this species. Eutrophication probably damages the symbiotic fungi on which Botrychium species depend. Trampling and overgrazing by livestock has negative effects. The conversion of its natural habitat into forest plantations or tourist developments (e.g. roads, ski slopes) leads to habitat loss. Changes to its natural habitat and a loss of quality are also caused by landfill, drying out, drainage or management of water levels. Collection of the plant and peat extraction are local threats (Käsermann and Moser 1999, Commission of the European Communities 2009).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Botrychium simplex is listed on Annex II of the Habitats Directive and under Appendix I of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention). It is listed on the following national red lists:
  • Czech Republic: Extinct (Holub and Procházka 2000, Grulich 2012)
  • Denmark: Endangered (NERI 2007)
  • Estonia: Extinct (Lilleleht 1998, 2008)
  • Finland: Endangered; B1+2abcde+3d (Rassi et al. 2001) amended to Critically Endangered C1+2a(ii)b (Rassi et al. 2010)
  • France: Endangered (Olivier et al. 1995) and then amended to Vulnerable D2 (UICN France, FCBN and MNHN 2012)
  • Germany: Critically Endangered, level 2 (Ludwig and Schnittler 1996)
  • Italy: Vulnerable (Conti et al. 1997) and then amended to Critically Endangered B2ab(i,ii,iv,v) (Rossi et al. 2013)
  • Lithuania: Endangered (Rašomavičius 2007)
  • Norway: Critically Endangered C2b (Kålås et al. 2006) and then amended to Endangered (Artsdatabanken 2010, Kålås et al. 2010)
  • Russia: Critically Endangered (I. Illarionova pers. comm. 2010)
  • Sweden: Endangered; B2b(iii,iv,v)c(iv); C2a(i) (Gärdenfors 2005, 2010)
  • Switzerland: Critically Endangered (Moser et al. 2002)
This species is protected by national law in several countries including Germany, France, Switzerland and Sweden. It is found in national parks, protected areas and Natura 2000 sites. Monitoring of the subpopulations is recommended and management of the sites in a way that is favourable to the species.

Citation: Christenhusz, M., Bento Elias, R., Dyer, R., Ivanenko, Y., Rouhan, G., Rumsey, F. & Väre, H. 2017. Botrychium simplex. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T161906A85446630. . Downloaded on 19 July 2018.
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