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Medicago citrina

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA MAGNOLIOPSIDA FABALES LEGUMINOSAE

Scientific Name: Medicago citrina
Species Authority: (Font Quer) Greuter
Common Name(s):
Spanish Alfalfa Arborea
Synonym(s):
Medicago arborea L. subspecies citrina Font Quer
Taxonomic Notes: Medicago citrina (Font Quer) Greuter belongs to the section Dendrotelis and is a tertiary wild relative of alfalfa, M. sativa (USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program 2010).

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Critically Endangered B2ab(iii,v) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2010-04-21
Assessor(s): Draper, D.
Reviewer(s): Dulloo, M.E. & Nieto, A.
Contributor(s): Osborne, J.
Justification:
Medicago citrina  is assessed as Critically Endangered because the area of occupancy (AOO) is less than 10 km², the global population is very fragmented, and there is evidence of decline in number of mature individuals as well as quality of habitat.
History:
2006 Critically Endangered (IUCN 2006)
2006 Critically Endangered
1997 Rare (Walter and Gillett 1998)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species only grows in small, fragmented subpopulations on the rocky slopes of some Balearic Islands, the Columbretes archipelago (province of Castellón), and on one small islet (the 'Illot de la Mona' or 'Escull del Cap de Sant Antoni') situated just off the coast of the Cape of St Antoni (province of Alicante). There are no known populations on the large Balearic Islands (Ibiza, Cabrera and Majorca) themselves, only on the islets surrounding Ibiza and Cabrera. Plants have been introduced onto one islet of Majorca. The area of occupancy (AOO) is less than 10 km².
Countries:
Native:
Spain (Baleares, Spain (mainland))
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The global population is very fragmented, with very few individuals and the population trend is declining.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: This shrub or small tree grows on rocky slopes. The plant grows on several small islands, and is thought to be dispersed by seabirds or other animals. It seems that seed germination improves after passing through an animal's digestive tract.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: M. citrina is a potential gene donor to alfalfa, M. sativa ssp. sativa.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In 1997, the subpopulation on the Columbretes decreased by 40% due to an attack of scale insects (Icerya purchasi) introduced from Australia, The same insects were detected on the Balearic Islands in 2001. Other threats include introduced rabbits, alien species such as Opuntia maxima which has invaded parts of its habitat (e.g., on the Illot de la Mona), and periodic, severe attacks of the parasitic plant Cuscuta. Invasive species may be more tolerant of drought than M. citrina, which has considerably reduced fruit set under dry conditions.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The species is presently listed in Annex I of the Spanish Royal Decree 439/1990, in the category 'sensible to the disturbance of its habitat', which guarantees protection of its natural habitat. Since 1985, it is strictly protected within the region of Valencia by a regional government decree.

In situ on the Columbretes: Here M. citrina occurs within a federally-owned nature reserve. Access to populations on the Islands Ferrara and Foradada is strictly prohibited apart from scientific expeditions. These two islands have now been designated as micro-reserves by the regional government, and a management plan was developed in 1993. The species has been reintroduced to the island of Grossa where it was eradicated by rabbits brought to the island in the 18th and 19th centuries. The rabbits were eliminated by 1987.

In situ 'Illot de la Mona': The plant micro-reserve, itself within the boundaries of the El Montago Nature Park and established by the regional government of Valencia, now fully protects this small population of approximately 25 plants. An action plan for the micro-reserve has recently been approved.

In situ on the Balearic Islands: Most of the subpopulations occur within the National Park of Cabrera. The botanical garden of Sóller has put in place a conservation plan on the islets around Cabrera, which includes reintroduction and monitoring of the populations. It is intended that these measures will also be applied to the islets of Ibiza. All the small Balearic islands are protected as Natural Areas of Special Interest under the Parliament of the Balearic Islands law 1/1991.

Ex situ: This plant is cultivated and seeds stored in the botanic garden of Valencia. It is also under cultivation in the botanical garden of Sóller and IMIDA (Instituto Murciano de Investigación y Desarrollo Agropecuario) of Murcia. No germplasm accessions are reported by EURISCO to be held in European genebanks (EURISCO Catalogue 2010).

The priority is to control attacks by the scale insect. It has been noted that the scale insect is a problem in citrus farms on the Spanish mainland, since farmers spray their citrus trees to kill a leaf miner, and in doing so kill a ladybird which is the main predator of the scale insect. If correct, measures are needed to maintain ladybirds in the areas where Medicago grows. A method of controlling Cuscuta also needs to be identified, and invasive alien species (e.g., Opuntia maxima) need to be managed. In general, conservation efforts require more information about the population trends of M. citrina over a prolonged period. Reintroduction work needs to be continued.

Citation: Draper, D. 2013. Medicago citrina. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.1. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 23 July 2014.
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