Woodlands of the Mediterranean species Juniperus oxycedrus ssp. macrocarpa (maritime juniper) are both vulnerable and ecologically important. Their ecology and biological status along the SW coast of Spain are not well known; this, the first major study of these juniper populations is a basis for future research and restoration policies. These communities are subject to harsh conditions, the plant composition being controlled by several factors at different scales. On a large scale, climate and soil texture play an important role in controlling the soil water availability to plants, and in separating xerophytic from mesic communities. On a small scale, coastal physiography, and substrate composition are related to differences in the floristic composition. Coastal plantations modify environmental conditions, such as sand mobility and salt spray deposition, inducing important changes in plant communities. The population of maritime juniper on this coast was estimated in ca. 25000 individuals, of which 93.6% are concentrated in three locations. Large proportions of young individuals were found in extensive and protected populations. However, adult individuals dominated the smaller populations located under pine plantations. This limitation of recruitment may be imposed by several factors. A male biased ratio was detected on the southern coast of Cádiz, which I hypothesize is due to the lower cost of pollen production in a stressful habitat. Preservation of suitable habitats, the recovery of abandoned pine plantations, and the connection between juniper populations, seem to be important requisites for the conservation of maritime juniper in the southwestern coast of Spain.
Nomenclature: Valdés et al. (1987).