In situ conservation action and monitoring for Ononis zschackei at Escorca, Majorca

21 August 2018

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Ononis zschackei is a narrow endemic plant of Mallorca. It is found in small populations in central zones of the Tramuntana mountain range. This taxon has been protected by law (R.D. 75/2005) and recently by Balearic Government Resolution (BOIB 131, 26/10/2017). It also appears in the Red Book of Vascular Flora of the Balearic Islands as an endangered taxon. The main threats are the low number of individuals in the natural populations, the herbicide application on roadsides where it is found and mainly the herbivorous impact by the goats which have a significant invasive role in the Tramuntana mountain range.

Left: Ononis zschackei in its natural habitat. Right: Detail of the flower of O. zschackei

The CARE-MEDIFLORA team in the Balearic Islands (The Sóller Botanic Garden, SBG) started the population reinforcement of a natural population which has only three individuals remaining alive. This population is located in Cúber (Escorca, Mallorca) in the center of the Tramuntana mountain range. The reinforcement was carried out with 82 seedlings produced in SBG from seeds stored in the Seed Bank. About 40 % of the seedlings have been planted in rocky sites with difficult access to the herbivores and the rest have been planted with protective fencing.

The monitoring was carried out fortnightly to ensure the survival of the new plants. The latest data indicates a 67% survival rate with losses due to damage by herbivory goats on unprotected individuals.

Left: Carrying out the reintroduction in rocky sites. Middle: Unprotected individual of O. zschackei. Right: Unprotected reintroduced plant affected by herbivory.

Left: Carrying out the protection of a group of O. zschackei individuals. Middle: Protected individuals of O. zschackei. Right: First flowering of the reintroduced population.

In September 2018 it’s planned to carry out a second reintroduction to make sure the reintroduction is a success. In addition, ex situ actions have been carried out by collecting seeds from 3 populations which were recently found by the staff of the Balearic Government who have been collaborating with the project.

Left: Reserve plants for the next reintroduction. Right: Fruits of O. zschackei.


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MAVA Foundation

Mediterranean Plant Specialist Group (IUCN/SSC) Sóller Botanical Garden Foundation, Balearic Islands Office of the Environment of Corsica - National Botanical Academy of Corsica Hortus Botanicus Karalitanus, Sardinia University of Catania, Sicily Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Chania, Crete Agricultural Research Institute, Cyprus Department of Forests, Cyprus