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Centaurea akamantis

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA MAGNOLIOPSIDA ASTERALES COMPOSITAE

Scientific Name: Centaurea akamantis
Species Authority: T. Georgiadis & Hadjik.
Common Name(s):
English Akamas Centaury
Taxonomic Notes: Centaurea akamantis T. Georgiadis & Hadjik

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2015
Date Assessed: 2015-08-25
Assessor(s): Kadis, C. & Eliades, N.-G.
Reviewer(s): Andreou, M., Christodoulou, C.S. & Allen, D.J.
Contributor(s): Peraza Zurita, M.D.
Justification:
Global, European and EU27 regional assessment: Critically Endangered (CR)

Centaurea akamantis is a subshrub or semi-woody herbaceous plant endemic to Cyprus, where it is known from three separate gorges on the Akamas Peninsula in the northwestern part of the island. The plant is listed under the Bern Convention (Appendix I), and is also listed as a priority species in Annexes II and IV of the Habitats Directive. It is included in the Red Data Book for the threatened plants of Cyprus (Tsintides et al. 2007). The three known subpopulations are located within the Akamas area which is included in the Natura 2000 protected areas network (CY 4000010).

The species has an extent of occurrence (EOO) estimated at 7 km2 and an area of occupancy (AOO) inferred to be less than 1 km2. Whilst the known number of mature individuals has increased since a new subpopulation was discovered (in 2012), the plants' habitat quality is inferred to be declining as a result of grazing and the resultant soil erosion, as well as soil erosion resulting from the intrinsic geology of the gorges where this plant is found. The species is assessed as Critically Endangered (based on the criteria B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii)). Ongoing population monitoring and conservation actions are required.
History:
2006 Critically Endangered

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: The species is endemic to Cyprus, known from only three sites (the Avakas, Koufon, and Falkonias gorges, between 70-150 m. asl) on the Akama Peninsula in the western part of the island.

Extent of occurrence (EOO) was estimated for this species to be 7 km² (Commission of the European Communities 2013), and the area of occupancy (AOO) was estimated for to be less than 1 km².
Countries:
Native:
Cyprus
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: Occasional observations and visual estimations of the population size since 1989 indicate that the population is more or less stable but regular monitoring is needed in order to confirm this. The subpopulations are considered to be severely fragmented given the plants presence in separate gorges.

The population was reported to be 550 individuals and isolated (Montmollin and Strahm 2005). In the Commission of the European Communities (2009) report the population was estimated to be 590 individuals, increasing to 800 individuals by 2013 (Commission of the European Communities 2013).
Population Trend: Increasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Subshrub or semi-woody herbaceous plant (prostrate to spreading shrub in cultivation; Georgiadis and Chatzikyriakou 1993) that colonizes steep and humid limestone cliffs. It is characterized by an extremely long flowering and fruiting period. It can be found in calcareous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation (Habitat Directive code 8210), in fissures of shaded limestone cliffs between 75-150 m altitude (Georgiadis and Chatzikyriakou 1993, Commission of the European Communities 2013).
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The plant is not thought to be directly used, although investigation into the ex- situ cultivation of the plant for use in horticulture is being undertaken. The plant also has cultural value; important touristic value and has appeared on a Cypriot coin.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Grazing poses a serious threat, even though it is not permitted in these areas and fines are imposed by the Forestry Department. Further, soil erosion threatens the species’ viability, causing habitat disturbance and decreasing the quality and quantity of soil seed bank.

The soil erosion is the result of the gorge’s geological structure. For instance, the Avakas Gorge is of Canyon type (this name is taken from the Canyon gorge in Colorado, USA), it is narrow, very deep, and 3 km long. It is carved out of limestone rocks, about 30 m high and narrowing dramatically at one point. These characteristics of the Avakas Gorge are linked to soil erosion and sometimes to rock-falls mainly due to storms or occasionally earthquakes. Overgrazing (by goats) is a significant parameter indirectly influencing the soil erosion due to trampling and overgrazing of plants, but this only affects a small part of the whole population, where the plants are accessible by goats. Similar condition are to be found at the other two gorges (M. Andreou pers. comm. 2014).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Actions in Place
Legislation: This species is protected by the Bern Convention where it is listed in Appendix I. It is also listed as a priority species in Annexes II and IV of the Habitats Directive. The species is included in the Red Data Book for the threatened plants of Cyprus. The EU accession has had a positive effect on species protection, as management plans are now harmonized with European law. The area of Akamas, where the boundaries of the three described subpopulations are located, is included  in the Natura 2000 site (CY 4000010). In addition, the subpopulation in Avakas Gorge (the largest subpopulation) was designated a Natural Micro-Reserve by a Ministerial Order in 2013, through the Cyprus Forestry Legislation (2012). This was made possible after the implementation of the LIFE+ project entitled “Establishment of a Plant Micro-Reserve Network in Cyprus for the Conservation of Priority Species and Habitats” (LIFE08 NAT/CY/000453), through which the subpopulation boundaries were mapped and the conservation status of this species was improved after specific conservation activities.

In situ: The Forestry Department is responsible for the sites where the species grows and has published a plan aimed at protecting the area. Several other strategies to protect the Akamas Peninsula have been proposed, including its designation as a Site of Community Interest (SCI) by the Natura 2000 Network and the establishment of a National Park. In 2002 a detailed EU/World Bank Action Plan was produced for the proposed park. However, it has not been established due to resistance from local communities (reported in Montmollin and Strahm 2005). This situation demonstrated the difficulty of reconciling the needs of nature conservation and tourist-based economies, especially in the Mediterranean region.


Ex situ: Νumbers of seeds (seedlots) were collected from the Avakas Gorge and stored at the seed bank of the Agricultural Research Institute (Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment), as well as in Universities’ seed bank (i.e. Nature Conservation Unit at the Frederick University and Department of Botany at the University of Athens). The species has been successfully cultivated at the Cyprus Agricultural Research Institute and at RBG Kew (Hind and Hall 2003). The long-term survival of this species outside its natural environment was achieved through the establishment of living collections within the Akamas Botanical Garden. 

Actions Needed
In situ: The National Park project should be approved by the Cyprus Council of Ministers. The species' habitat should be nominated as a Nature Reserve, which according to the Forest Law, will provide complete and permanent protection to this site and reduce grazing pressure.

Ex situ: Wild seeds from the three subpopulations need to be collected and stored at the seed bank of the Agricultural Research Institute, in order to cover a sufficient genetic range.

Citation: Kadis, C. & Eliades, N.-G. 2015. Centaurea akamantis. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 31 July 2015.
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