F. Shrub communities

Balkan pseudomaquis

Relationships with habitat classifications. EUNIS: F5.31 Helleno-Balkan pseudomaquis; PAL. CLASS.: 32.71: Helleno-Balkan pseudomaquis.

Conservation status. None.

Category. Nearly Threatened [NT – C2 D2 E1 F1 G1 H1 I L2].

General characteristics. The habitat encompasses 0,5–3 m high xerothermic mixed scrub consisting of Mediterranean and sub-Mediterranean xerophilic deciduous and evergreen shrubs and small trees. They occur in the conditions of transitional Mediterranean climate, in the belt of the xerothermic oak forests in the valleys of Struma, Maritsa and Toundzha rivers and along the Black Sea coast. These shrub communities represent a transition to the Mediterranean maquis and transitional-continental scrub (“shiblyak” in Bulgarian), where many xerophilic species occur. The pseudomaquis most often are degraded communities of shrub-like oaks, which have developed after the cutting of the wood or as a result of grazing of the deciduous forests. They occur on silicate and limestone, mainly on poor soils on the slopes. The projective cover of the shrub canopy does not exceed 75%, but mostly it is between 30 and 50%. The local physical-geographical conditions have impact on the composition and the abundance of the species in these communities. Most often no clear edificators and dominants exist. Both evergreen (Ficus carica, Juniperus excelsa, J. oxycedrus, Phillyrea latifolia, Quercus coccifera) and deciduous (Acer monspessulanum, Carpinus orientalis, Crataegus monogyna, Fraxinus ornus, Jasminum fruticans, Ligustrum vulgare, Ostrya carpinifolia, Paliurus spina-christi, Pistacia terebinthus, Prunus domestica subsp. insititia, P. spinosa, Quercus frainetto, Q. pubescens, Rhus coriaria) shrubs and trees participate in the mixed communities. The shrubs Amygdalus webbii, Asparagus acutifolius, Celtis australis, Colutea arborescens, Coronilla emerus subps. emeroides, Frangula rupestris, Genista rumelica, Lembotropis nigricans, Lonicera etrusca, Rhamnus rhodopeus, Syringa vulgaris, and the herbs Anemone blanda, A. pavonina, Aristella bromoides (= Stipa bromoides), Bothriochloa ischaemum, Chrysopogon gryllus, Cleistogenes serotina, Festuca valesiaca, Nigella damascena, Poa bulbosa, Psilurus incurvus etc. also participate in the pseudomaquis.Typically, the composition of the pseudomaquis and the number of the evergreen shrubs and trees decrease in the distribution range of these communities in Bulgaria but nevertheless they preserve the outlook of the evergreen Mediterranean vegetation. Pyracantha coccinea occurs in some places in the pseudomaquis in Strandzha Mts. (near Malko Tarnovo town). These communities have been established on marbled limestones, on shallow and eroded soils and are strongly degraded as a result of grazing. Rhus coriaria makes monodominant coenoses in South Pirin Mts. (near Melnik) and along the Black Sea coast (Emine Cape, East Balkan Range and between Balchik town and Topola village). Monodominant communities of Pistacia terebinthus occur in Bessapara hills and Struma river valley. Syntaxonomically the pseudomaquis belong to the alliances Syringo-Carpinion orientalis, Carpinion orientalis and Junipero excelsae-Quercion pubescentis.

Characteristic taxa.

Distribution in Bulgaria. Black Sea coast, East Balkan Range, West Frontier Mts., (Ograzhden Mts., Malashevska Mts., Vlahina Mts.), the southern parts of the valley of Struma River, the valley of Mesta river, Belasitsa Mts., Thracian Lowland, Toundzha Hilly Country, Central and East Rhodopi Mts., Strandzha Mts.; from sea level up to 900 m alt.

Conservation importance. Some rare and endangered vascular plants occur in the pseudomaquis such as Amygdalus webbii, Anemone pavonina, Crocus olivieri, Romulea bulbocodium, Stachys thracica etc., as well as fungi of conservation importance: Amanita caesarea, A. ovoidea, Antrodia juniperina, Geastrum triplex, Pyrofomes demodoffii.

Threats. Grazing, fires, exploitation of inert materials and afforestation with alien coniferous species.

Conservation measures taken. The territories of the pseudomaquis are within the borders of Strandzha Nature Park, Uzunbudzhak, Tisata, and Izgoryaloto Gyune Strict Nature Reserves, Byala Reka Protected Site etc., and in sites of the European Ecological Network NATURA 2000.

Conservation measures needed. Detailed phytocoenological studies, monitoring and proclamation of protected areas that will encompass representative parts of this habitat type.

References. Jordanoff 1939; Stojanov 1924, 1941; Stoyanov & Achtarov 1951a.

Authors: Chavdar Gussev, Dimitar Dimitrov, Rossen Tzonev

Balkan pseudomaquis (distribution map)