Abies pinsapo var. pinsapo 


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Plantae Tracheophyta Pinopsida Pinales Pinaceae

Scientific Name: Abies pinsapo var. pinsapo
Parent Species:
Taxonomic Source(s): Farjon, A. 2010. A Handbook of the World's Conifers. Koninklijke Brill, Leiden.
Taxonomic Notes: This assessment only relates to the populations of Abies pinsapo var. pinsapo in southeastern Spain. Populations in Morocco are assessed under the name Abies pinsapo var. maroccana.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(iii)+2ab(iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-05-14
Assessor(s): Arista, A., Knees, S. & Gardner, M.
Reviewer(s): Thomas, P. & Farjon, A.
The extent of occurrence (EOO) has been calculated as 940 km² and the actual area of occupancy (AOO) has been calculated as being 28.7 km² ; when a standard 4 km² grid is used, the AOO is between 10 km² and 500 km². The number of locations is three and there is a decline in its quality of habitat, mainly as a result of fire and more recently, the effects of fungal and insect pathogens as well as effects of recent droughts. These latter problems are most evident in lower altitude stands. It is therefore listed as Endangered.
Previously published Red List assessments:
1998 Vulnerable (VU)
1998 Rare (R)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:

Abies pinsapo var. pinsapo occurs in three locations: Sierra de Grazalema (Cádiz), Sierra de las Nieves and Sierra Bermeja (Málaga). The largest forests occur in Sierra de Grazalema and Sierra de las Nieves. In total the population has an EOO of 940 km2 with an actual AOO of 28.7 km2.

In the Sierra de Grazalema the main distribution is along the Sierra del Pinar where this variety is restricted to 4 km²; The three small localities in this area contain trees which have not yet reached reproductive age. At the Sierra de las Nieves location most trees are concentrated in the municipalities of Yunquera, Ronda and Tolox, where they occur in an area of  24 km². The smallest and most isolated subpopulation is at Reales, within the Sierra Bermeja, where it is restricted to a small area of 0.7 km².

Countries occurrence:
Estimated area of occupancy (AOO) - km2: 28.7
Continuing decline in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Extreme fluctuations in area of occupancy (AOO): No
Estimated extent of occurrence (EOO) - km2: 940
Continuing decline in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Extreme fluctuations in extent of occurrence (EOO): No
Number of Locations: 3
Lower elevation limit (metres): 900
Upper elevation limit (metres): 1600
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: At present the largest locations for A. pinsapo var. pinsapo are undergoing expansion, particularly at higher altitudes. Expansion in many small areas is the result of reforestation. The total population is estimated to be less than one million sexually mature trees. Although the total population is thought to be increasing, lower elevation stands have been declining as a result of the combined effects of drought and pests (Linares 2009, Esteban 2010)
Current Population Trend: Increasing
Additional data:
Extreme fluctuations: No Population severely fragmented: No
Extreme fluctuations in subpopulations: No All individuals in one subpopulation: No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Abies pinsapo var. pinsapo grows mainly on northerly exposures of the Sub-Betic mountains. The trees in the Sierra de Grazalema and Sierra de las Nieves are on dolomitic soils and have an altitudinal range of 900 to 1,600 m. Above 1,100 m they form dense, pure forests, but below this altitude they form mixed communities in dense forest with Quercus rotundifolia and Q. faginea and with a shrub layer mainly of Daphne laureola ssp. latifolia, Hedera helix, Helleborus foetidus, Ruscus aculeatus and the herbs Iris foetidissima and Rubia peregrina. In the more open forest areas the fir is associated with Crataegus monogyna ssp. brevispina, Prunus spinosa, Ptilotrichum spinosum, Bupleurum spinosum, B. gibraltaricum and Cistus albidus. The forest in Sierra Bermeja is on serpentine soils and here the tree layer occurs with Quercus suber and with other conifers such as Pinus pinaster and P. halepensis (this association is also occasionally found on calcareous soils). The shrub layer on serpentine soils is composed of Erica terminalis, Genista lanuginosa, G. triacanthos, Cistus populifolius ssp. major, Bunium alpinum ssp. macuca and Cerastium gibraltaricum. Abies pinsapo has a reproductive cycle of one year; the differentiation of reproductive buds occurs in July and pollen shed and female cone receptivity occurs in April-May. Wind-borne pollen dispersal has a low capacity. Fertilization occurs two months after pollination and female cones achieve their full development by June. Seeds begin to shed in October and they enter dormancy until February when germination occurs; seeds that fail to germinate in this year die, hence there is no persistent seed bank formed.
Systems: Terrestrial
Continuing decline in area, extent and/or quality of habitat: Yes

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The timber has historically been locally used for house construction. The forests in the Sierra de Grazalema (El Pinar) were managed for timber production. There is no present-day use of the timber.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Fire is the main threat to A. pinsapo var. pinsapo forests. During the last 45 years, 566 hectares of forests has been lost. Abies pinsapo is not fire adapted; it does not have the ability to regenerate from sprouting and there is a lack of seed longevity, hence there is no soil seed bank available for potential post fire regeneration. Other threats include pests and diseases which have increased in their occurrence over the last 15 years, especially in drought years and in forests resulting from reforestation. The main pathogens are the fungi Armillaria mellea and Heterobasidium annosum, and the insect species Dioryctria aulloi and Cryphalus numidicus. The latter is the most detrimental insect as it attacks the trunk and branches causing death. The isolation of populations due to fragmentation and a low genetic flow is currently an important risk that could give rise to a low genetic diversity within populations which would make them more susceptible to diseases. Threats from livestock are no longer a problem. During the last decade (1990s) a regional warming trend and a the decrease in precipitation has been observed. These changes in climate together with changes in landuse appear to be the causes of mortality of trees at elevations below 1,100 m (Linares 2009).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions:

Abies pinsapo var. pinsapo is protected at a regional level under the Spanish law in the “Andalusian Catalogue of Threatened Wild Plants“ (Decree 104/94) which means that it has to have a plan of conservation which is currently being developed. At the European level, A. pinsapo forests have been included in the Habitats Directive (92/43/CEE).

In situ conservation action: i) most of the pinsapo forests are included in the so-called “Network of Protected Areas in Andalusia”: Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park (1984), Sierra de las Nieves Natural Park (1989) and Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja Nature Area (1989). ii) In the last seven years the “Action Program for A. pinsapo conservation” has been established. Under this program conservation actions are being carried out which include the prevention of forest fires, phytosanitary treatments, fencing small trees to protect them from livestock, and experimental reforestations.

Ex situ conservation actions are being carried out by the “Andalusian Networks of Botanic Gardens” and the “Andalusian Germoplasm Bank”.

Lastly, research studies are being undertaken to better understand the genetic variability of the remaining forests, the level and frequency of gene flow between them and to assess the possible problems derived from climate change.

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
suitability: Suitable  major importance:Yes

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
  Action Recovery plan:Yes
  Systematic monitoring scheme:Yes
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
  Occur in at least one PA:Yes
  Percentage of population protected by PAs (0-100):90
  Area based regional management plan:Yes
In-Place Species Management
  Subject to ex-situ conservation:Yes
In-Place Education
2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing: Past, Unlikely to Return ♦ scope: Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity: Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score: Past Impact 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.1. Intentional use: (subsistence/small scale)
♦ timing: Past, Unlikely to Return ♦ scope: Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity: Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score: Past Impact 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.3. Logging & wood harvesting -> 5.3.2. Intentional use: (large scale)
♦ timing: Past, Unlikely to Return ♦ scope: Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity: Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score: Past Impact 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.1. Fire & fire suppression -> 7.1.1. Increase in fire frequency/intensity
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Whole (>90%) ♦ severity: Very Rapid Declines ⇒ Impact score: High Impact: 9 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

8. Invasive & other problematic species & genes -> 8.2. Problematic native species
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Majority (50-90%) ♦ severity: Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score: Medium Impact: 6 
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.2. Species disturbance

11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.2. Droughts
♦ timing: Ongoing ♦ scope: Whole (>90%) ♦ severity: Slow, Significant Declines ⇒ Impact score: Medium Impact: 7 
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends
3. Monitoring -> 3.4. Habitat trends

Bibliography [top]

Esteban, L.G., De Palacios, P. and Rodriguez-Losada Aguado, L. 2010. Abies pinsapo forests in Spain and Morocco: threats and conservation. Oryx 44(2): 276-284.

IUCN. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.2). Available at: (Accessed: 10 November 2011).

Linares, J.C., Camarero, J.J. and Carreira, J.A. 2009. Interacting effects of changes in climate and forest cover on mortality and growth of the southernmost European fir forests. Global Ecology and Biogeography 18: 485-497.

Citation: Arista, A., Knees, S. & Gardner, M. 2011. Abies pinsapo var. pinsapo. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2011: e.T30309A9531803. . Downloaded on 28 November 2015.
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