A bottom–up approach for the conservation status assessment of structure and functions of habitat types

  • Ioannis Tsiripidis
  • Fotios Xystrakis
  • Athanasios Kallimanis
  • Maria Panitsa
  • Panayotis Dimopoulos
Vegetation Science and Habitats Directive


Monitoring of habitat types conservation status is an essential task in the frame of the European policy for biodiversity conservation. The parameters to be assessed for the purposes of habitat types’ conservation status assessment are described in several European documents, but the methodology for their determination has not yet been standardized or optimized. This study presents methods for the assessment of the actual status and the future prospects of structure and functions of habitat types. Specifically, it presents a bottom–up approach for the assessment of these two parameters at different spatial scales. In the proposed method, conservation status assessment is based on a classification of habitat types to subtypes, with the latter representing the basic monitoring entities. The conservation status is assessed by recording: (i) the presence/absence of specific indicators of structure and functions per habitat type, and (ii) the presence/absence, abundance, and vitality of the typical species of the habitat subtypes. The typical species are determined objectively using algorithms and fidelity coefficient values. The conservation status and future prospects of structure and functions (including the typical species) are estimated quantitatively with the help of numerical methods and algorithms, but their assignment to conservation status classes is based on thresholds defined by experts. Assessments are made at the local scale, but can be upscaled to coarser ones (up to the national level). The proposed methods have been applied in Greece and were effective both in terms of results obtained and costs needed.


Biodiversity Greece Habitats Directive Indicator species Monitoring Vegetation 



Τhe authors would like to acknowledge the financial support received by the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change for the research project: Surveillance and Conservation Status Assessment of habitat types of Community Importance (2013–2015), and to thank Milan Chytrý and an anonymous reviewer for their valuable comments and suggestions.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Botany, School of BiologyAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessaloníkiGreece
  2. 2.Forest Research InstituteHellenic Agricultural Organization “Demeter”VassilikaGreece
  3. 3.Department of Ecology, School of BiologyAristotle University of ThessalonikiThessaloníkiGreece
  4. 4.Faculty of Biology, Division of Plant BiologyUniversity of PatrasPatrasGreece

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