Horstrissea dolinicola (Horstrissea dolinicola)
Mohamed bin Zayed Species project number 202523456
Actions for in situ conservation of the unique population of the monotypic plant genus Horstrissea in central Crete (Greece)
Horstrissea dolinicola is an endemic plant of the island Crete, Greece which is found only in a restricted area at the location “Petradolakia” of the Municipality of Anogeia in Psiloritis mountain at an altitude of 1500 m. It has been categorized as Critically Endangered according to IUCN and is also considered one of the Top 50 most endangered plants on the Mediterranean islands. The species is considered important and unique as it is one of the few endemic genera of the flora of Greece.
The Mediterranean Plant Conservation Unit (MPCU) of CIHEAM Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania (MAICh) has contributed to the study and conservation of the plant since 2000. Seeds of the plant are stored in the Seed Bank of MAICh and its reproductive biology has been studied. Recently, the MPCU implemented conservation actions to reinforce the population in its natural habitat in the framework of the project CARE-MEDIFLORA, funded by the MAVA Foundation (2016-2019) (http://www.care-mediflora.eu/download/87). During this project a close collaboration was developed with the local stakeholders, the Municipal Authority and the local shepherds, who agreed that this unique element of the area's natural environment should be protected and they removed disturbances from livestock. In addition, there was a close collaboration with the Decentralized Administration of Crete - Forest Directorate of Rethymnon, which has led to the establishment of a Plant Micro-Reserve for the species by taking the legal status of a “Protected natural formation” (Greek Law 1650/1986 as amended by Law 3937/2011). The official decision made by the Decentralised Administration of Crete was published in the Government Gazette of Greece (ΦΕΚ Δ/250 18-5-2020).
Now, funding has been granted to the MPCU of MAICh by the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund in order to continue its conservation actions for Horstrissea dolinicola until 2022.
The overall objectives of the new project are:
1. Gather information related to population dynamics. Little is known about population dynamics of Horstrissea dolinicola, i.e. how and why population sizes change over time. This information is essential for any conservation action and can be gathered through long term monitoring of the population.
2. Improve knowledge on population size and geographical distribution. The population size is not well known due to the inaccessible mountain environment where it grows but also to the unusual biology of the plant. This information is crucial for designing a program for species conservation and management of its habitat.
3. Improve Conservation status of the known population. H. dolinicola is a Critically Endangered species and actions to minimize its extinction risk are needed, i.e. actions such as reinforcement to increase the population size.
4. Study the biotic interactions of the population, namely predation and competition. Better understanding of the impact of grazing on the population size is necessary for any management decisions related to agricultural activities in the area.
5. Disseminate the actions and results of the project. Production of an information sign and publication of the project actions and results.
The project is implemented in collaboration with the Decentralized Administration of Crete, Forest Directorate of Rethymno, and the Municipality of Anogeia.