Successful reintroduction of Limonium mucronulatum within Alyki Salt Lake, Cyprus, where population destroyed due to public works

24 May 2019

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Limonium mucronulatum is an erect perennial, glaucous herb, flowering from June to August and fruiting from July to September. It is endemic to Cyprus and occurs on the margins of Larnaca Salt Lake, in openings of halophytic scrub, near the sea level. The total population is approximately 700 individuals. The species is listed in the Red Data Book of the Flora of Cyprus as Critically Endangered. The main threat is the uncontrolled (vehicle) traffic through its habitat.
The species was recorded on two locations within the wider area of Larnaca Salt Lake, around 3km apart (Map A). The largest population occurs at Location A, where the smaller population, occurred at Location B, was destroyed in 2011 due to public works.  Within the framework of the CARE-MEDIFLORA project, the species was reintroduced to the Location B in December 2017. Before the establishment of the plants, the rubles were removed and a soft fencing was placed to prevent the access to vehicles. Fifty plants were established on December 2017. All mother pants reached flowering the season after planting. Seventeen months after their establishment (May 2019), fourteen mother plants survived (28% survival rate). Nevertheless, hundreds of young seedlings have been recorded around the mother plants, even around mother plants that they recently dried out. Natural vegetation starts spreading within the fenced area.

Map depicting the two locations where the species was recorded within the wider area of Larnaca Salt Lake. Population at Location B was destroyed due to public works.

Left: Public works at Location B in 2011; Right: Removal of the rubles in December 2017

Left: Established mother plants in January 2018; Right: Mother plants just before the beginning of flowering in May 2018

Young seedlings around the mother plants in May 2019

Natural vegetation spreading inside the fenced area; Left: fenced area in January 2018; Right: fenced area in May 2019

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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