Data from: Roadside verges and cemeteries: comparative analysis of synanthropic orchid habitats in the Mediterranean Archipelago
Cite this dataset
Fekete, Réka et al. (2019). Data from: Roadside verges and cemeteries: comparative analysis of synanthropic orchid habitats in the Mediterranean Archipelago [Dataset]. Dryad. https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.f054b0d
Several important habitats have become threatened in the last few centuries in the Mediterranean Basin due to major changes adopted in land use practices. The consequent loss of natural and semi-natural orchid habitats lead to the appreciation of small anthropogenic habitats, such as cemeteries and roadside verges. Colonization of cemeteries and roadside verges by orchids has long been known, but no study to date compared the suitability of these two anthropogenic habitats for orchids. Therefore, in this paper our aim was to survey cemeteries and roadside verges and to compare these two habitats regarding their role in conserving Mediterranean terrestrial orchids. We conducted field surveys in three Mediterranean islands, Cyprus, Crete and Lesbos, where both cemeteries and roadside verges were sampled on a geographically representative scale. We found a total of almost 7000 orchid individuals, belonging to 77 species in the two anthropogenic habitat types. Roadside verges hosted significantly more individuals than cemeteries in Crete and Lesbos, and significantly more species across all three islands. Our results suggest that although cemeteries have a great potential conservation value in other parts of the world, intensive maintenance practices that characterized cemeteries in these three islands renders them unable to sustain valuable plant communities. On the other hand, roadside verges play a prominent role in the conservation of Mediterranean orchids in Cyprus and Greece. The pioneer status of roadside verges facilitates their fast colonization, while roads serve as ecological corridors in fragmented landscapes.