Experimental reintroductions of endangered plant species in their natural habitats in Spain

  • Published source details Sainz-Ollero H. & Hernandez-Bermejo J.E. (1979) Experimental reintroductions of endangered plant species in their natural habitats in Spain. Biological Conservation, 16, 195-206.


Four Iberian Peninsula endemic plants (Vella pseudocytisus, Hutera rupestris, Silene hifacensis and Artemisia granatensis) considered threatened due to their very restricted distributions were chosen for small-scale propagation and reintroduction experiments. Seed was provided by the Universidad Politécnica, Madrid. The objective was to help guide future reintroduction attempts, making use of a very limited number of seeds.

Knowing the seed germination requirements, plants were propagated in a greenhouse. When planted out, each transplant was watered with 0.5-1 litre of water to facilitate rooting. The number of plants in each reintroduction was between 40 to100. Reintroduction sites were visited once or twice a year to record condition of transplants.

Vella pseudocytisus (a small perennial shrub; population estimated at 2,000-3,000 individuals). Two locations near Aranjuez (Madrid Province), the core area of distribution, were selected. One was chosen for its gypsum-derived soil (know preference of Vella). The other was on rendzina (not the soil type associated with Vella). Small numbers of 6-month-old plants were transplanted in both localities. Some plants were planted in biodegradable ‘jiffy’ pots containing peat compost.
Hutera rupestris(a biennial herb; population estimated at 500-700 individuals in 1975). It grows in fissures on limestone cliffs/rocks at la Molata, Sierra de Alcaraz (Albacete province), but observations indicated that many plants did not produce fruit, primarily due to intensive cattle-grazing, thus three other sites on the Sierra were chosen for introduction (15 mature plants transplanted at each):
1) Cliffs near la Mesta village (near la Molata), at an altitude and orientation similar to that of the extant population; 2) Almenara mountain, a colder and higher locality than la Molta; 3) Los Chorros.
Silene hifacensis (a perennialherbof coastal limestone cliffs on Ibiza and Espartar (Balearics), and Cabo de San Antonio and Peñón de Ifach (Alicante province) where extinct). Forty mature plants were planted at Peñón de Ifach on two occasions (an interval of about 1 year between each).

Artemisia granatensis (a small perennial bush endemic to the Sierra Nevada (Grenada province) growing near mountain summits). At two localities on Sierra Nevada, 43 individuals were planted at the end of spring.

Vella pseudocytisus - All plants on the gypsum-derived soil in 1978 were in good condition. On the renzina soil, only one individual was alive18 months after planting-out. The use of jiffy pots was very unsuccessful resulting in rooting difficulties, and rabbits Oryctolagus cuniculus, mice and moles Talpa europaea, sometimes uprooted the pots.
Hutera rupestris – Plants were most successful at site 1 (where livestock grazing appeared absent) although plants did not flower during the first year. At sites 2 and 3 50% of transplants failed but some survivors flowered and fruited.
Silene hifacensis - Data were only available regarding the first reintroduction. A very high rabbit density was observed and many plants were damaged by rabbit-grazing. The use of jiffy pots was unsuccessful and they were therefore not used in the second introduction.
Artemisia granatensis - Only data regarding one site were available (one year after the introduction). There was a 30% over-winter mortality, which was not considered excessive.

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