This article consists of two main parts. The first part presents a phytosociological study of the secondary grasslands of Montagna dei Fiori (1814 m a.s.l.), within the National Park of Gran Sasso and the Laga Mountains, in Abruzzo, central Italy. The second part provides a suggested syntaxonomic review of the Apennine grassland communities belonging to the class Festuco-Brometea.
As far as the first part is concerned, the vegetation analysis was conducted on 38 phytosociological relevés. These were analysed statistically using cluster analysis, fuzzy analysis, and principal component analysis, and are compared with published relevés of similar grassland phytocoenoses. Five plant associations were identified, four of which are newly described: one belongs to the class Nardetea strictae (Campanulo micranthae-Nardetum strictae) and the last three to the class Festuco-Brometea (Cerastio suffruticosi-Brachypodietum genuensis, Astragalo depressi-Koelerietum splendentis and Festuco circummediterraneae-Achilletum tomentosae).
In the second part, regarding the syntaxonomic review of the class Festuca-Brometea, the synchorological meaning of the recent classifications of the Italian forest communities is discussed at the alliance and order levels in order to highlight the strong link between forest communities of the Italian peninsula and the eastern communities (Balkan). As the secondary grasslands derived by substitution from the forest communities, it seems logical to consider the chorological origin of the two formations as similar since they are dynamically linked, as well as their floristic composition also justify. Thus, it is proposed to include the meso-xerophilous and xerophilous basophilous grasslands of the Apennines in the order Scorzonero villosae-Chrysopogonetalia grylli, within which there are defined the new Apennine alliance, Phleo ambigui-Bromion erecti This alliance was previously considered as invalid because its nomenclatural type, that is the association Asperulo purpureo-Brometum erecti, had an invalid and illegitimate name. Because recently the association was validly re-proposed by Di Pietro (2011), the alliance Phleo ambigui-Bromion erecti is here newly reproposed. Of this new alliance the following three new suballiances have been recognised Phleo ambigui-Bromenion erecti; Brachypodenion genuensis e Sideritidenion italicae.
The alliance Phleo ambigui-Bromion erecti, is distributed along the northern Apennines, except for the western-most parts (Liguria and a part of northern Tuscany), on the whole of the central Apennines, and part of the southern Apennines (the boundary is in the Basilicata Region).
In the southern-most part of the calcareous Appennines there is the endemic alliance Hippocrepido glaucae-Stipion austroitalicae in which two new suballiances have recognised: Hippocrepido glaucae-Stipienion austroitalicae and Violo pseudogracilis-Bromopsienion caprinae, which is obtained by reduction of the alliance Violo pseudogracilis-Bromopsion caprinae.
Moreover, the validity of the order Brometalia erecti Koch 1926 is confirmed and the order Artemisio albae-Brometalia erecti Ubaldi ex Dengler & Mucina in Mucina et al. 2009, proposed by Mucina et al. (2009), is rejected because, on the basis of the nomenclatural priority, it is illegitimate. Therefore the suborder Artemisio albae-Bromenalia erecti of the order Brometalia erecti is considered to be re-proposed, and the new syn-range, comprising the sub-Mediterranean area of France and the north-western Italy (Liguria and a part of northern Tuscany), is indicated.
Apennines, Brometalia erecti, ecological spectrum, Festuco-Brometea, grasslands, phytosociology, Scorzonero villosae-Chrysopogonetalia grylli, synchorology, statistical analysis, syntaxonomy