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Cupressus dupreziana var. atlantica

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA PINOPSIDA PINALES CUPRESSACEAE

Scientific Name: Cupressus dupreziana var. atlantica
Species Authority: (Gaussen) Silba
Parent Species:
Common Name(s):
English Atlas Cypress, Cyprès de l'Atlas, Moroccan Cypress
Synonym(s):
Cupressus atlantica Gaussen
Taxonomic Notes: This variety has previously been described as a separate species – Cupressus atlantica (Gaussen 1950) but both Farjon (2005) and Silba (1998) consider it to be morphologically very close to C. dupreziana. Likewise, from both the morphological and phytochemical studies (Griffiths 1998) it is thought that Cupressus atlantica is a subspecies of  C. dupreziana (and very separate from C. sempervirens).  Recent research (Rushforth et al. 2003) suggests that C. atlantica should be considered as a distinct species from C. sempervirens and C. dupreziana. However more molecular work is required to confirm the true taxonomic status of this taxon.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1ab(ii,iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2012-03-07
Assessor(s): Gardner, M. & Griffiths, A.
Reviewer(s): Thomas, P. & Farjon, A.
Justification:
Cupressus dupreziana var atlantica has undergone a recent decline of 73% over a 36 year period (1950-1986: Achhal 1986) in the area of occupancy. This decline is sufficient for an assessment of Endangered under A2 criteria. However, the estimated current extent of occurrence is 40 km2 which is within the 100 km2 threshold for Critically Endangered under the B1 criteria. It is known from a single location where the primary threat across that range comes from overgrazing and an associated lack of regeneration. Secondary threats include over-collection of seed. In addition, there is a continuing decline in the quality of habitat and the number of mature individuals. According to IUCN guidelines, the highest category of threat should be used and therefore an assessment of Critically Endangered is warranted.
History:
2000 Endangered
1998 Endangered (Oldfield et al. 1998)
1998 Endangered
1997 Endangered (Walter and Gillett 1998)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This variety is endemic to Morocco in the Region of Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz and the Province of Marrakech. The precise area is located in the Oued n'Fiss Valley 60 km south of Marakech, between Tizi-n-Test road, south of Asni. In total there are 8 sites (Bellefontaine 1979) which together represent a single location. The current actual area of occupancy is estimated to be 14.58 km² (Achhal 1986) while the extent of occurrence, based on recent herbarium specimens from across its known range, is 40 km2.
Countries:
Native:
Morocco
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:

The taxon consists of a single population within a single location. A ground survey (using binoculars) of four of the eight known locations estimated that the number of individuals is at least 6,650 trees (Tigouramine: 100; Targa-n-Ait Iratene: 200; Rikt: 1,350; Achachi: 5,000+) (Griffiths 1998). Estimates of the actual AOO indicates a reduction from c.55 km² (Boudy, 1950) to only 14.58 km² (Achhal 1986) which over a 36 year period gives a reduction of some 73% (Griffiths 1998). Most trees are semi-mature to mature and in excess of 100 years old (Boudy 1950, Bellefontaine 1969, Griffiths 1998).

Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Forms a monoecious, slow-growing tree 16-20 m tall and most trees are in excess of 100 years old. Grows in a temperate semi-arid to dry Mediterranean climate with periods of drought and snow.  All stands occur on steep-sided mountain slopes in an altitudinal range of between 1,000 and 2,200 m. Three of the four stands studied grow on south-east facing slopes, the stand at Targa-n-Ait Iratene is on a north-facing slope (Griffiths 1998). The substrate is shale or schist and crystalline soils of granites and occasionally of calcareous soils which are unstable and constantly eroding (Bellefontaine 1979, Achhal 1986). Associated woody species include: Juniperus phoenicea and Tetraclinis articulata with the shrubs: Lavandula dentata. var. dentata, L. maroccana, Launaea arborescens and Waronia saharae and the herbs include: Carlina brachylepis Cymbopogon schoenanthus, Eryngium ilicfolium, Globularia alypum, Linaria ventricosa, Ononis natrix L. subsp. prostrata and Polygala balansae.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade:

Historically, the wood was utilized for making joists and beams in order to build houses and in the building of large gates for the entrances of old town walls (Bellefontaine 1979, Achhal 1986). The larger branches of the trees were utilized to make chairs and tables and other furniture and the smaller branches were collected during the summer and stored for winter feed for the local Berber herds of goats and donkeys. Today substantial amounts of seeds are collected annually for commercial horticulture.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s):

Threats include seed collecting, grazing and climate change. During a survey undertaken by Griffiths (1998) it was found that much damage was caused to the trees by local Berbers who were collecting seed unsustainably for commercial horticultural use in Marrakech. The survey found that 84% of the trees were either severely or moderately damaged, 14% had little damage and only 2% of the trees had no damage. Grazing by goats and donkeys in all four stands studied is also a problem and is on a large scale involving large numbers of animals. Such grazing pressures has a detrimental effect on regeneration (Bellefontaine 1979, Achhal 1986), this is also substantiated by local Berbers (Griffiths 1998). Germination tests concluded that the seeds are viable in all four locations but it is not just the pressures of excessive grazing that prevent regeneration but also the steep, constantly eroding slopes.

According to the Direction des Eaux et Forêts State the climate has changed noticeably over recent years and as a result there is less rainfall and higher summer temperatures (Griffiths 1998).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Some conservation strategies have been implemented by the Direction des Eaux et Forêts including fencing off the sub-populations of Rikt and Achachi and at the former some replanting has been carried but due to lack of after care the survival rate has been low (Griffiths 1998). It is cultivated in botanic gardens and arboreta in Europe and the USA.

Citation: Gardner, M. & Griffiths, A. 2013. Cupressus dupreziana var. atlantica. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 September 2014.
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