Abies pinsapo


Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family

Scientific Name: Abies pinsapo
Species Authority: Boiss.
Infra-specific Taxa Assessed:
Common Name(s):
English Spanish Fir
Spanish Pinsapo
Taxonomic Notes: Abies pinsapo has two varieties, one in Morocco and the typical variety in southeastern Spain. The Moroccan variety is sometimes treated as a distinct species (Abies marocana). A third taxon, Abies tazaotana from Mt Tazaot in Morocco is generally regarded as conspecific with Abies pinsapo var. marocana.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Endangered B1ab(i,ii,iii)+2ab(i,ii,iii) ver 3.1
Year Published: 2011
Date Assessed: 2010-06-17
Assessor(s): Arista, A., Alaoui, M.L., Knees, S. & Gardner, M.
Reviewer(s): Thomas, P. & Farjon, A.
Abies pinsapo has a very limited distribution and a restricted habitat in small areas of Spain and Morocco. The total extent of occurrence (EOO) has been estimated to be 3,727 km², while the area of occupancy (AOO) is considerably less than 500 km². The number of locations is five and there is a decline in the quality of habitat in significant parts of its range. In Morocco, deforestation and forest degradation are regionally significant factors whereas in Spain, the decline is linked to  fungal and insect pathogens combined with the effects of recent droughts and long term fire suppression. This species is therefore listed as Endangered.
1998 Lower Risk/near threatened (Oldfield et al. 1998)

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:Abies pinsapo occurs in two discrete and disjunct areas in southeastern Spain and in the Rif Mountains of Morocco. These are separated by the Straits of Gibralter and a distance of about 135 km. In Spain the typical variety has an EOO of 940 km2 with an actual AOO of 28.7 km2. In Morocco, A. pinsapo var. marocana has an estimated extent of occurrence of 75 km² with an estimated area of occupancy of 28 km². There are a total of five locations. Using standard IUCN methodology, the overall EOO is estimated to be 3,727 km2 rather than 1,015 km2. A significant proportion of the EOO is represented either by the Mediterranean Sea or other unsuitable habitat such as coastal plains. The estimated AOO is considerably less than 500 km2.
Morocco; Spain
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: There are currently no accurate figures for the total number of mature individuals over the full extent of its range. The Moroccan subpopulation is considerably smaller than the Spanish subpopulation. Recent genetic studies (Terrab et al. 2007) have indicated  that the Spanish and Moroccan varieties have been isolated for considerable periods of time and that there is little, if any, gene flow between them.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: In Morocco Abies pinsapo occurs in the Mediterranean humid bioclimatic zone. The average annual rainfall is 1,500 mm, increasing to 1,900 mm at an altitude of 1,700 m. Stands are typically found on north facing dolomitic limestone slopes of mountain ridges. The optimal altitudinal range is between 1,400 and 1,800 m, where it forms mixed forests with a range of oaks and maples. Between 1,800 and 2,000 m Abies occurs with Cedrus atlantica, Pinus nigra and Pinus pinaster. Above 2,000 m the mountain summits are typically dominated by shrubby xerophytic species. In southeastern Spain Abies pinsapo occurs on dolomitic soils in the Sierra de Grazalema and Sierra de las Nieves but on serpentine soils in the Sierra Bermeja. Forests occur at altitudes between 900 and 1,600 m asl. Above 1,100 m its forms dense, pure forests, but below this altitude trees occur in mixed communities with a range of oaks and pines. More detailed information is given in the assessment for each  variety.
Systems: Terrestrial

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): In Spain the major threat is fire. Other threats include pests and diseases which are more apparent during drought years when forests are more stressed.  During the last decade (1990s) a regional warming trend and a decrease in precipitation has been observed. These changes have been associated with increasing mortality of trees at elevations below 1,100m (Linares 2009). In Morocco, fire is also a major threat. Deforestation and habitat degradation associated with cannabis cultivation in the areas surrounding the fir stands are additional threats. More detailed information is given in the assessment for each  variety.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: The majority of stands are now within various protected areas in Spain and Morocco. In 2006 these protected areas were included in the first UNESCO Intercontinental Mediterranean Biosphere Reserve.
In Spain Abies pinsapo var. pinsapo is also protected at a regional level under the Spanish law. At the European level, A. pinsapo forests have been included in the Habitats Directive (92/43/CEE). More detailed information is given in the assessment for each  variety.

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.

Farjon, A. 2001. World Checklist and Bibliography of Conifers. 2nd edition. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

IUCN. 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (ver. 2011.2). Available at: http://www.iucnredlist.org. (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.

Moore, H.M., Fox, H.R., Harrouni, M.C. and El Alami, A. 1998. Environmental challenges in the Rif mountains, northern Morocco. Environmental Conservation 25(4): 354-365.

Terrab, A., Talavera, S., Arista, M., Paun, O., Stuessy, T.F. and Tremetsberger, K. 2007. Genetic diversity at chloroplast microsatellites (cpSSRs) and geographic structure in endangered West Mediterranean firs (Abies spp., Pinaceae). Taxon 56(2): 409-416.

Citation: Arista, A., Alaoui, M.L., Knees, S. & Gardner, M. 2011. Abies pinsapo. In: The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 22 December 2014.
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