Plant Species and Habitat Conservation
The research in this area deals with rare and endangered plant species and habitats of conservation concern, referring to the EU Habitat Directive.
The activities focus on
1) assessment and monitoring of conservation status;
2) detection of threats to species persistence and causes of habitat deterioration
3) indication of management outlines for sustainable conservation and restoration.
Species and habitats are studied at different scales: biological traits, population dynamics, community diversity and succession. Field and laboratory work is an important component of this unit. These activities are also supported by the Botanical Garden and the Herbarium (TO).
Research activities and projects
Conservation status Assessment of endemic and threatened plant species using the IUCN Criteria and Categories.
The research focuses on Isoetes malinverniana, a narrow endemic quillwort occurring within channels used for rice fields water supply, in Piedmont and Lombardy. The species is listed on Annex II of the Habitats Directive and under Appendix I of the Convention on the Conservation of European Wildlife and Natural Habitats (Bern Convention). Research activities were carried out in collaboration with the University of Pavia
2009-2010 project "Biodiversità per tutti" conducted by Ente Parco Lame del Sesia and funded by Cassa di Risparmio delle Province Lombarde (CARIPLO).
The status of I. malinverniana was assessed and is currently monitored through mapping, frequent surveys and permanent plots located in the channels where the species naturally occurs.
Biological traits of Isoetes malinverniana
2012-2013 project "TUTTO E' CONNESSO": strategie di conservazione attiva degli ecosistemi umidi e baraggivi e della rispettiva connettività ecologica", action A2.4 "Azioni concrete di conservazione in situ ed ex situ di idrofite autoctone a elevato rischio di estinzione", funded by Regione Piemonte (P.S.R. 2007-2013, misura 323), on the ground of the agreement with Ente di Gestione delle Riserve Pedemontane e delle Terre d'Acqua
The research team is carrying out studies on the reproduction biology and phenology of Isoetes malinverniana and others endangered hydrophytes to develop non-destructive methods to provide plants to ex situ conservation and to restocking purposes. Sporelings are obtained both from spore germination in Petri dishes under controlled conditions and from spore bank recruitment, in a greenhouse.
We have ongoing transplanting experiments in the SCI "Palude di Casalbeltrame" (IT1150003) in order to develop suitable methods to get plants acclimatized to semi-natural conditions before reintroduction.
2013-2017 Progetto LIFE12 NAT/IT/000818 titled "Semi-natural dry grassland conservation and restoration in Valle di Susa through grazing management", coordinated
by Parco Alpi Cozie, in collaboration with the Department of Agronomy, Forest and Land management, University of Turin.
This project aims at maintaining and restoring dry grasslands on calcareous substrates in the SCI IT1110030 "Oasi xerotermiche-Orrido di Chianocco e Foresto", through agro-pastoral actions. The research group is mainly focused on assessing and monitoring the conservation status of the priority habitats, compiling floristic inventories (with particular concern to rare and protected species such as orchids), surveying vegetation with the phytosociological method in permanent plots.