PATTERNS AND PROCESSES DRIVING CLIFF PLANT COMMUNITIES: APPROACHES FOR THE CONSERVATION OF ENDEMIC CLIFF FLORA
ID: 613 / 97
Proposed Symposium Title: PATTERNS AND PROCESSES DRIVING CLIFF PLANT COMMUNITIES: APPROACHES FOR THE CONSERVATION OF ENDEMIC CLIFF FLORA
Abstract: Cliffs are fragile but unique ecosystems worldwide. Cliffs form diverse plant communities with a great ability to adapt to their particular severe conditions. They are especially rich in endemic and endangered plant species and provide vital climatic and ecological refuges for emblematic and rare flora. For instance, cliffs are home of 35-40% of the endemic taxa of Europe and 66% of New Zealand, also hosting millennia-old trees. Traditionally, cliffs have been among the least human-disturbed habitats but nowadays they are under strong pressure from climate change and from the huge increase in popularity of recreational climbing. The number of climbers grows at a rate of 15-20% each year, with current estimates at ca. 50M climbers worldwide, leading to overcrowded cliffs.
Despite their uniqueness and high vulnerability, cliffs remain understudied by science and neglected in conservation agendas. This leads wildlife managers to make blind decisions within a framework of growing conflicts among stakeholders. Clear biodiversity protection goals and disturbance indicators are therefore needed to guide these decisions. To fill this gap, we require advanced research that gathers site-specific but extensive data on the value and conservation status of cliff biodiversity. With this IBC symposium, we aim to include cutting-edge research from a great variety of perspectives, such as systematics of rocky species to understand past evolutionary processes in cliffs, assessments on the status of natural populations of cliff flora, understanding the role of cliffs' microbiota for helping plant adaptations to cliffs' harsh conditions, or the potential loss of genetic diversity in endangered and rare cliff plants. We also aim to address novel approaches, such as the use of drones, to conduct ecological/conservation studies. A scientific discussion from diverse research topics would help to advance the knowledge of existing patterns and processes in this unique ecosystem and promote effective protection actions.
Speaker 1: Adrián Escudero (Professor; male), Universidad Rey Juan Carlos (Madrid, Spain), email@example.com; Title: “Is the current management in natural areas effective to protect at-risk cliff plant species against increased climbing pressure?”.
Speaker 2: Vera Holland (Postdoctoral researcher; female), Goethe University Frankfurt (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), firstname.lastname@example.org; Title: “Effects of increased climbing chalk and drought on generalist and specialist cliff plants”.
Speaker 3: Jorge Calvo Yuste (PhD student; male), Universidad de Salamanca (Salamanca, Spain), email@example.com; Title “Phylogeny-wide analysis for understanding evolutionary events that shaped cliff vascular plants”.
Topics (Up to three): Ecology and Plant Communities
Topic 2: Conservation Biology
Topic 3: Biogeography / Phylogeography
Justification: The recent COP15 recognized that only a fraction of vulnerable ecosystems could be protected by 2030. This implies that priorities should focus on biodiverse and fragile ecosystems with at-risk species, such as cliffs. Cliffs hold an outstanding amount of endemic, endangered and emblematic flora and they are at risk from the huge increase in popularity of climbing. However, cliffs have been traditionally understudied and overlooked in conservation agendas. During the last years, the number and diversity of research studies about cliffs has been rising, being a key ecosystem for scientific discussion and for halting the loss of unique biodiversity.