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Plant Sociology 51 (2) S1 2014

pag. 25-32: Syntaxonomic considerations of the Mediterranean vegetation dominated by perennial psammophilous graminaceous plants

E. Biondi & D. Galdenzi

Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences, Polytechnic University of Marche, Via Brecce Bianche I-60131, Ancona, Italy.

doi: 10.7338/pls2014512S1/03

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The vegetation dominated by perennial psammophilous grasses along the Mediterranean coasts is reviewed and updated according to the new concepts, with particular reference to the European grasses. First, the class of the dune psammophilous vegetation that is already indicated in the Vegetation Prodrome of Italy with the name of Ammophiletea is updated to Euphorbio paraliae-Ammophiletea australis. Thus, the dune vegetation of the central and northern Atlantic is distinguished in syntaxonomic terms from that of the similar Mediterranean and south-Atlantic formations. This separation is carried out at the order level, by recognizing the order Elymetalia arenarii for the north-European Atlantic coasts and the order Ammophiletalia australis for the Mediterranean and thermo-Atlantic coasts. For the Mediterranean area is also recognized the order Elymetalia gigantei, for the Pontic zone and specifically for the Black Sea coasts and the Marmara Sea areas.
The main aim of this revision is therefore recognition of the syntaxa that make up the hierarchical scheme proposed for the Mediterranean Basin, with the definition of the alliance Ammophilion australis for the vegetation of the white dunes, the alliance Agropyrion juncei for that of the embryonic dunes and the alliance Elymion gigantei for that of the Pontic dunes. In terms of the alliance Ammophilion australis, the suballiance Ammophilenion australis is recognized for the European thermo-Atlantic and Mediterranean coastal areas except for the coasts of north Africa and the new suballiance Silene succulentae-Ammophilenion australis is described for the Mediterranean part of north Africa. For the alliance Agropyrion farcti that defines the vegetation that shows the richest biodiversity of the whole system, four suballiances are recognized. Of these, two are ‘structural system’, even if they are well characterised in ecological and floristic terms, and two are biogeographic. The first two of the suballiances are Sporobolenion arenarii, which includes the first perennial vegetation of the first parts of embryonic dunes directly reached by seawater, and Elymo farcti-Otanthenion maritimi suball. nova, which includes the vegetation of the inner parts of the embryonic dunes characterised by reduced mobility of the sandy substrate. Defined in chorological terms, the two suballiances within the Mediterranean Basin are: the suballiance Agropyrenion farcti, which includes the European psammophilous communities from the Iberian Peninsula to the Balkan one up to the Pontic Region except for the Crete and Cyprus Islands; and the suballiance Sileno succulentae-Elymenion farcti suball. nova, which includes the communities of the north African Mediterranean coast. Finally, within the order Elymetalia gigantei, the alliance Elymion gigantei is recognized for the psammophilous vegetation of the Pontic dunes.


Atlantic coasts, coastal vegetation, embryonic dunes, Mediterranean coasts, mobile dunes, syntaxonomy