Terrestrial Ecosystems

 

In 2009, the Management Body of Aenos National Park assigned to the University of Patras, scientific supervisor Prof. Th Georgiadis, a study entitled “Implementation of a System for Monitoring and Evaluation of Habitat Types Ecological Status (Directive 92/43/ EEC)”, according which in the core of Aenos National Park there have been identified and described 7 different types of ecotopes. 4 ecotopes out of 7 are included in Annex I, Directive 92/43/EEC and 3 ecotopes are mentioned in the manuals of Corine Biotope & Paleoartic Habitat Classification. The identified ecotopes are briefly described below:

 

Greek fir (Abies cephalonica) forests (951Β)

This ecotope type is the largest and most ecologically important of Aenos National Park. It covers an area of 2.190 ha and represents 77% of the study area ecotopes. Flora composition of the habitat includes the following ecotope characteristic species: Abies cephalonica, Scilla nivalis, Cyclamen hederifolium, Anemone blanda, Corydalis densiflora, Saxifraga chrysoslenifolia, Paeonia mascula subsp. russi etc. The fir forest expands from the altitude of about 800 meters to the top of Mount Aenos at 1600 meters of altitude. At lower heights (up to 1100 – 1200 meters) fir forest undergrowth vegetation is principally represented by Quercus coccifera. In habitat patches where Abies cephalonica exceeds the height of 20 meters, the fir forest vegetation cover approaches 100%; nevertheless, in other locations the trees are more degraded and sparse. Fir tree degeneration levels vary considerably; they may be satisfactory in some habitat patches and scarce in others. In the neighboring Roudi the fir forest mainly covers the central and western part of the mountain. Clumps of Abies cephalonica grow below 700 meters and expand up to the top, at 1100 meters of altitude. Recently, trees of the species Pinus nigra GF Arnold have been recorded at 1200 meters of altitude on the NW slopes of Mount Aenos (Phitos & Katsouni, 2011). In lower heights (about 800 meters), fir forest undergrowth vegetation consists of dense populations of the broad-leaved evergreen species Arbutus unedo, A.andrachne, Quercus coccifera, Q. ilex, and Phillyrea latifolia. At higher altitudes, undergrowth vegetation of Crataegus monogyna and Q. coccifera species becomes sparser. Fir forest thickness varies, from very dense at Roudi’s western part, to sparse and degraded at the central and eastern area. Likewise, fir trees regeneration is satisfactory where the fir forest is dense, while it is almost non-existent at the sparse and degraded clumps of fir trees.      

 

Greek oak (Quercus coccifera) forests (934Α)

This forest habitat type is dominated by Quercus coccifera tall tree and shrubs; the  vegetation mainly consists of clumps of tall trees (2 -6 meters), and a few shrub species (Phillyrea latifolia). Forest floor herbaceous vegetation is quite scarse. Quercus coccifera sp. exhibits high levels of regeneration capacity and  resistance to anthropogenic pressures (fire, herbivore grazing), the frequency and intensity of which determine the relative tree density in Quercus coccifera forests. At Mount Roudi this residual forest habitat occupies a small area of 11 ha at 650-900 meters of altitude to represent 0,4% of the identified ecotopes in the core of Aenos National Park. Characteristic species composition of oak forest ecotope includes Quercus coccifera, Phillyrea latifolia, Smilax aspera, Rupia peregrina, Asparagus acutifolius.

 

Quercus ilex  forests (9340)

Mediterranean shrubs ecosystem defines this forest habitat type, dominated by Arbutus unedo and Quercus ilex. The composition of the shrubs floor includes to a lesser extent the species Q. coccifera, Erica arborea, Pistacia terebinthus, Arbutus andrachne, Phillyrea latifolia etc. The undergrowth herbaceous vegetation is poor; phryganic species (Cistus creticus, Cistus salviifolius, Anthyllis hermanniae etc) grow at open spaces and beyond the border of the clumps. The shrubs are relatively high (1.5-3 m) and quite dense (almost impenetrable in many places). They occupy an area of 289 ha and represent 10% of the habitats in the study area. On mount Ainos, shrubs were recorded on the southern slope, just below the central peaks, at an altitude of 800 – 1000 m. On mount Roudi this habitat type expands especially in the northern part covering a broad area from 500 m to 800 m of altitude where it gets mixed with the cephalonian fir forest. 

 

Calcareous rocky slopes with chasmophytic vegetation (8210)

This habitat type comprises the rocky areas that occupy the entire southern slope of mount Aenos central peaks. The vegetation cover is very low and does not exceed 5-10%. It occupies an area of 60 ha and represents 2.1% of the habitats of the study area. Habitat flora composition comprises herbaceous species growing on rocks such as Pterocephalus perennis, Campanula versicolor, Scutellaria rupestris subsp. cephalonica, Silene ionica, Carum multiflorum, Aubrieta deltoidea etc. The aforementioned species are characteristic of this habitat type. Gravelly areas created by the fragments of rocks or large stones either on flat or slightly sloping substrates, define Viola cephalonica habitat type with a flora composition that differs from the characteristic vegetation of rocks and screes. 

 

Balcan screes (8140)

This type of habitat is located in the area of mount Ainos and is distinguished more by its morphological characteristics and less by the flora composition. It is a heavily eroded area of 46 ha, composed by moderate to fairly stable limestone scree slopes; it is located at the lower part of the southern slope of mount Aenos central peaks and represents 1,6% of the habitats recorded. Vegetation cover is very low with a few characteristic species of this habitat such as Lamium garganicum subsp. Strictum, Scutellaria rupestris subsp. cephalonica, Cerastium candidissimum.

 

Eastern Mediterranean Garrigues (5340)

This habitat type is characterised by evergreen and broad-leaved shrubs mixted with phryganic vegetation. It covers an area of 5340 ha and represents 7,3% of the ecopotes recorded. The vegetation principally consists of Quercus coccifera and Phlomis fruticosa, is sparse and heavily grazed up to a state of degradation of the deciduous shrubs. Flora composition also includes resistant species to grazing such as Crataegus monogyna and Euphorbia rigida. This type of open vegetation strongly favors the presence of herbaceous species, like Brachypodium retusum, Pteridium aquilinum, Bupleurum glumaceum, Festuca jeanpertii subsp. achaia etc. Taller shrubs are also overgrazed so that they do not exceed 1,5 m of height. It is worth to mention that in this habitat type also an overgrazed dwarf population of cephalonian fir has been recorded.

 

Arborescent matorral with Juniperus spp. (5210)

This habitat type is characterised by the shrubs species Crataegus monogyna. It expands in an area of 30 ha and represents 1,06% of the habitats studied. Even though Juniperus spp. have not  been recorded, the present ecopote results similar to (5210) as it also constitutes a state of degradation of the fir forest, occupies the same growth space, and develops similar ecological features. The main species of habitat vegetation is Crataegus monogyna, while Abies cephalonica  is also present in a lower, but constant frequence, providing evidence for the origin of the clumps.  Vegetation composition includes reduced populations of deciduous shrubs (Quercus coccifera, Phillyrea latifolia), phrygana (Phlomis fruticosa, Euphorbia rigida) as well as many herbaceous species, due to the open vegetation structure. Shrubs are high up to 2 m. Clumps of C. monogyna occupy a significant area of the central part of mount Roudi, at 800 to 1000 m of altitude.

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