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||The part of the Northern Sporades included in the site, which covers the National Marine Park, represents a unique in the Mediterranean complex of terrestrial and marine habitats. It contains a variety of vegetation types -especially marine priority habitat types of excellent representativity-, and of flora and fauna species, among which many are endemic, rare, or protected, and some are at their southern- or northern-most limits of distribution. The island of Piperi is protected by the Barcelona Convention.Besides the scientific and educational interest of both the marine and the terrestrial area, the site also presents a great archaeological interest with relicts covering the prehestorical, the classical, and the byzantine ages (cave findings, shipwrecks, old monasteries, and churches).The ecological quality and importance of the site and especially its biological diversity potential are made evident by the following detailed description:Fauna:The numerous caves with beaches formed at the sea cliffs of the islands consitute ideal shelters for the Monk seal population, which is estimated to be the most important in the Mediterranean. Piperi, the most important breeding area for the Monk seal, is the core area of the National Marine Park of Sporades.An isolated population of Capra aegagrus ssp. dorcas (included in section 3.2.c. as C. aegagrus) lives exclusively on Gioura. Also, the herpetofauna of all the islands is very important, including rare and protected species.The avifauna is very rich, containing a large number of migratory and breeding birds. The sea-cliffs are most important as nesting places for the colonies of Eleonora's falcon and for the sea birds (Larus andouinii, Puffinus puffinus, Phalacrocorax aristotelis, Calonectis diomedea, etc.). A variety of raptor species nest or feed in the area.The invertebrate fauna is also important, including a lot of endemic species of Isopoda, especially in the cave of Cyclops (Gioura). In particular, among the Thysanoptera species, Scirtothrips dignus, found in Skantzoura, has been recorded as a new species; Rhipidothrips unicolor was first reported in the Mediterranean region; and Scirtothrips magniferae was first reported in Greece. A thriving abundance of species characterize the biodiversity in the marine biotopes. The variety of marine habitats (such as the excellent Posidonia beds, reefs etc) and the lack of pollution have contributed in this high diversity of the marine species, a fact that gives the site systematic and zoogeographical value.Many fish species, amphipoda, and species of Porifera have been recorded in the site. Notably, among them Coscinoderma sporadense is a new species and for Spongia virgultosa and Ircinia pausifilamentosa these are their first reports in the Aegean.For the Annelida species, Brachiosyllis exilis, Amphitrite cirrata, Placostegus crystallinus, Policirus pallidus, Policirus tennuiselis, Procerastea perrieri, Streptosyllis websteri, and Syllis brevipennis their presence in the site is their first record in Greece and for the Decapoda Callianasa acanthura (1st report in Greece), Periclimenes scriptus, Anapagurus breviaculeatus, and Pilumnus villosissimus their first report in the Aegean sea.Palinurus vulgaris is considered a threatened invertebrate (European Invertebrate Survey, 1991). Homarus gammarus is a threatened commercial species.The Tunicata Microcosmus sulcatus and the Echinodermata Arbacia lixula and Sphaerechinus granularis are considered threatened invertebrates (European Invertebrate Survey, 1991). Paracentrotus lividus (Echinoderma) is considered a threatened species (IUCN, 1988).From the Mollusca species reported in the site, for Diodora italica it is its first report in Greece, for Leptochiton africans its first report in the western Mediterranean, and for Loripinus fragilis, Musculus discors, and Musculus niger their first report in the Aegean sea. Arca noae, Arca barbata, Venus verrucosa, Chlamys varia, Monodonta turbinata, Ostrea edulis, and Callista chionae are considered threatened invertebrates (European Invertebrate Survey, 1991).Two species, Aplysiopsis elegans (Coelenterata) and Doris marmorata (Bivalve), are endemic to the Mediterranean.The important Bivalvia species (Koomen P. and P.J. van Helsdingen) Pinna nobilis, is included in Annex IV of the Directive 92/43/EEC and it is protected by the Greek Law (Presidential Decree 67/81).Lithophaga lithophaga is an important species (Koomen P. and P.J. van Helsdingen), included in Annex IV of the Directive 92/43/EEC.Finally, there are important stocks of fish, lobsters, and mollusca species, with high commercial value.Flora:The rich chasmophytic vegetation, which includes a lot of endemic species, is of great phytogeographical and ecological interest.There are plant species occurring in the South Aegean, for which Gioura is their northernmost distribution limit. Such species are: Avenula cycladum, Erysimum senoneri ssp. senoneri, Evax contracta, Filago cretensis ssp. cretensis, Filago aegaea ssp. aristata, Ficus carica, and Malcolmia flexuosa ssp. naxensis.Sedum urvillei have their main distribution in the mainland also occur at Gioura.Silene fabaria is an species of Central Greece and of the Aegean, with one report from W. Anatolia, while Geocaryum macrocarpum is a species with limited distribution.Muscari dionysiacum, Galium reiseri, Satureja athoa, Aethionema polygaloides, and Trigonella rechingeri are protecte by the Greek Law (Presidential Decree 67/81).The hybrid Arbutus unedo X Arbutus adrachne, occurs in the Aegean only.The semi-aquatic habitats on Psathoura are important for the rare species: Pilularia minuta, Callitriche brutia, Ranunculus baudotii, Lythrum boristhenicum, Aphanes minutiflora. Pancratium maritimum, occurring on the sand beaches of Psathoura, has a decreasing trend and may become threatened because of the destruction of its habitats in the Mediterranean.NOTES: Cladocora cespitosa is included in 3.3. as Cladocera cespitosa (mispelled in the software list)OTHER IMPORTANT SPECIES WITH MOTIVATION DPilularia minuta is included in the IUCN Red Data List (1993) in the category of threatened plants characterized as vulnerable in Greece and it is protected by the Bern ConventionThe following species are protected by the Greek Law (Presidential Decree 67/81) and are included in the IUCN Red Data List (1993) in the category of threatened plants: Trigonella rechingeri (rare), Anthemis werneri ssp. werneri (indeterminate), Campanula scopelia (rare), Muscari dionysicum (rare), Aethionema saxatile ssp. creticum (rare) Callitriche brutia is a European species, found in Psathoura and Agios Efstratios in Greece. Campanula chalcidica is balkan endemic found in Athos and Yioura in Greece. Evax contracta occurs in the S. Aegean in Greece and in Europe, otherwise in Asia. Filago aegaea ssp. aristata is a plant with distribution in S & E Aegean, Ionian Islands, Crete and Cyprus. Lythrum borysthenicum is a species of C & S Europe, very rare in the Balkan peninsula (Flora Europaea).Note: The IUCN characterizations given concern the plant’s status in Greece unless otherwise stated. Malcolmia flexuosa ssp. naxensis is endemic to the Aegean region and Anatolia. Silene fabaria is an Aegean region endemic (occurring only in W Anatolia out of Greece). Brassica cretica ssp. aegaea is a chasmophyte with distribution in Greece, SW Anatolia, Mt Carmel. Aurinia saxatilis ssp. megalocarpa (=Alyssum saxatile ssp. megalocarpum) is a plant with distribution in the Aegean Islands, Kythira, S. Italy and W. Turkey.