Habitat and Ecology
Habitat and Ecology
This small shrub is present in open spaces of pine woods and xerophile shrubland on calcareous soils with clayey loam or sandy acid soils. Other habitats are thermo-Mediterranean shrub habitats and less frequently in coastal dune scrub, and coastal dune woods. It is found in the community Tuberario majoris-Stauracanthetum boivinii
This plant grows in the following Habitats Directive listed habitats (Commission of the European Communities 2009):
- 2260 Cisto-Lavenduletalia dune sclerophyllous scrubs
- 2270 Wooded dunes with Pinus pinea and/or Pinus pinaster
- 5330 Thermo-Mediterranean and pre-desert scrub
IUCN Red List Assessment
Red List Category Year Assessed
Near Threatened Red List Criteria Version
Caldas, F.B. Reviewer/s
Alves, P. & Bilz, M. Contributor/s Justification
This plant is endemic to the eastern Algarve in
Portugal with an extent of occurrence of 1,838 km² and an area of occupancy of 1,600 km². There are some big populations but also a several scattered and isolated populations. The populations are potentially severely fragmented and this fragmentation is continuing due to urban, tourism, and agricultural expansion. Further threats are posed by garbage disposal and natural succession. It is assessed as Near Threatened approaching Criterion B2ab(iii) until further information on what percentage of the populations is fragmented becomes available.
In the area of Pontal, the largest and most continuous population can be found. In the Ria Formosa Natural Park are some populations of good size and a large number of individuals. There are numerous small scattered populations, that have been isolated for decades in the agricultural mosaic of the Algarve countryside, before the expansion of orange groves (ICN 2006). The populations are severely fragmented and this fragmentation is continuing due to urban and agricultural expansion.
The main pressure on the species are posed by urban and tourism expansion, including the creation of new golf courses, that leads to destruction and fragmentation of its habitat. Garbage disposal further degrades the habitat, whereas natural succession increases the competition for the species (ICN 2006).
Thymus lotocephalus is listed as priority species on Annex II of the Habitats Directive. It is listed under Appendix I of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention) under the synonym Thymus cephalotos. This plant is legally protected in Portugal. The control of urban and agricultural expansion is recommended, as well as site management to control natural succession (ICN 2006).