Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
An aim for conservation in Norway is preserving the Svalbard archipelago as one of the least disturbed areas in the Arctic. Information on local distribution, population sizes and ecology is summarized for 20 thermophilous vascular plant species. The need for conservation of northern, marginal populations in Svalbard is reviewed, using World Conservation Union categories and criteria at a regional scale. Thirteen species reach their northernmost distribution in Svalbard, the remaining seven in the western Arctic. Nine species have 1-8 populations in Svalbard and are assigned to Red List categories endangered or critically endangered: Campanula rotundifolia, Euphrasia frigida, Juncus castaneus, Kobresia simpliciuscula, Rubus chamaemorus, Alchemilla glomerulans, Ranunculus wilanderi, Salix lanata and Vaccinium uliginosum, the last four species needing immediate protective measures. Five species are classified as vulnerable: Betula nana, Carex marina ssp. pseudolagopina, Luzula wahlenbergii, Ranunculus arcticus and Ranunculus pallasii. Six species are considered at lower risk: Calamagrostis stricta, Empetrum nigrum ssp. hermaphroditum, Hippuris vulgaris (only occurring on Bjørnøya), Juncus triglumis, Ranunculus lapponicus and Rhodiola rosea. The warmer Inner Arctic Fjord Zone of Spitsbergen supports most of the 20 target species and is of particular importance for conservation. Endangered or vulnerable species were found in a variety of edaphic conditions; thus, several kinds of habitats need protection.
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