Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 16, Issue 6, pp 1603–1615 | Cite as

Vascular plant diversity and climate change in the alpine zone of the Lefka Ori, Crete

  • G. Kazakis
  • D. Ghosn
  • I. N. VogiatzakisEmail author
  • V. P. Papanastasis
Original Paper


The aim of this study is to analyse the vascular flora and the local climate along an altitudinal gradient in the Lefka Ori massif Crete and to evaluate the potential effects of climate change on the plant diversity of the sub-alpine and alpine zones. It provides a quantitative/qualitative analysis of vegetation-environment relationships for four summits along an altitude gradient on the Lefka Ori massif Crete (1664–2339 m). The GLORIA multi-summit approach was used to provide vegetation and floristic data together with temperature records for every summit. Species richness and species turnover was calculated together with floristic similarity between the summits. 70 species were recorded, 20 of which were endemic, belonging to 23 different families. Cretan endemics dominate at these high altitudes. Species richness and turnover decreased with altitude. The two highest summits showed greater floristic similarity. Only 20% of the total flora recorded reaches the highest summit while 10% is common among summits. Overall there was a 4.96°C decrease in temperature along the 675 m gradient. Given a scenario of temperature increase the ecotone between the sub-alpine and alpine zone would be likely to have the greatest species turnover. Southern exposures are likely to be invaded first by thermophilous species while northern exposures are likely to be more resistant to changes. Species distribution shifts will also depend on habitat availability. Many, already threatened, local endemic species will be affected first.


Islands Global change Greece Mountains Species richness Species turnover 



Global Observation Research Initiative in Alpine Environments


General circulation models


Lowest Summit




South-East Kakovoli




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The research was funded by the project EU-GLORIA (2001–2003) No. EVK2-CT- 2000-00056. We are thankful to Mrs Christina Fournaraki at MAICH for her assistance with plant identification, Dr A.M. Mannion and Dr G.H. Griffiths at the University of Reading for their comments on an earlier draft of this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • G. Kazakis
    • 1
  • D. Ghosn
    • 1
  • I. N. Vogiatzakis
    • 2
    Email author
  • V. P. Papanastasis
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Environmental ManagementMediterranean Agronomic Institute of ChaniaChaniaGreece
  2. 2.Centre for Agri-Environmental Research, School of Agriculture Policy and DevelopmentUniversity of ReadingReadingUK
  3. 3.Laboratory of Rangeland Ecology, Faculty of Forestry and Natural EnvironmentAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessalonikiGreece

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