In Corsica, away from the eyes of locals and vacationers, hides a inhabitants of unprecedented proportions of a uncommon and guarded orchid: the uncared for Serapias (Serapias neglecta). In a closed army base within the east of the island, researchers found 155,000 people of the plant.
Globally, this orchid can solely be discovered within the south of France (together with Corsica), Italy, and alongside the east coast of the Adriatic, however none of its recognized populations has been as ample because the one documented in Solenzara.
Margaux Julien, Dr Bertrand Schatz, Simon Contant, and Gérard Filippi, researchers from the Heart of Purposeful Ecology and Evolution (CEFE) and Ecotonia consultancy,got here throughout this inhabitants whereas learning plant variety within the Solenzara air base. Their analysis, revealed in Biodiversity Knowledge Journal, documented spectacular plant richness, together with 12 different orchid species.
The upkeep of the closed army space turned out to be actually beneficial to the event of orchids. The flower was ample across the edges of runways and on lawns close to army buildings.
“?ilitary bases are necessary areas for biodiversity as a result of they’re closed to the general public, usually are not closely impacted and these areas have soils which might be typically poorly fertilised and untreated on account of outdated installations, so that they typically have excessive biodiversity,” the researchers say of their research.
The meadows across the airport are recurrently mowed for safety causes, which permits orchids to thrive in a low vegetation surroundings with little competitors. As well as, the historical past of the land with its place on the outdated Travo river mattress favours low vegetation, offering rocky floor just some centimetres beneath the soil.
“The case of S. neglecta is especially outstanding, as a result of this species advantages from a nationwide safety standing and it’s a sub-endemic species with a really localised distribution worldwide,” the analysis group writes. Furthermore, the species is classed as close to threatened within the World and European Pink Lists of the Worldwide Union for Conservation of Nature.
The Ecotonia consultancy additionally did a number of inventories on the air base, discovering biodiversity of uncommon richness: 552 species of vegetation, together with 19 with protected standing in France. Inside solely 550 ha, they discovered 23% of the plant species distributed in Corsica. Amongst these are some very uncommon vegetation, in addition to endangered species such because the gratiole (Gratiola officinalis) and Anthemis arvensis subsp. incrassate, a subspecies of the corn chamomile.
The Solenzara army base hides wealthy floristic variety because of its historical past, administration, and the dearth of public entry. Whereas the Corsican shoreline is affected by urbanisation, this sector is a testomony to the native flora, that includes a number of species with conservation standing.
The safety of this richness is essential. “If logistical developments are carried out on this base, they should favour the conservation of this distinctive floristic biodiversity, and, particularly of this significantly ample orchid. Navy bases are an excellent alternative for the conservation of species and would profit from enhancing their pure heritage,” the researchers conclude.
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