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Plant Sociology numero 51 (1)

pag. 59-87: The vegetation and the plant landscape of Monte Sassotetto (Sibillini Mountains, Central Apennines)

M. Allegrezza1, S. Ballelli2, V. Ciucci1, M. Mentoni3 & S. Pesaresi1

1Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences, Marche Polytechnic University, Via Brecce Bianche, 60131 Ancona, Italy
2School of Biosciences and Veterinary Medicine, University of Camerino, Via Pontoni 5, 62032 Camerino (MC), Italy
3Geologist, P.zza U. Ciccardini, n. 5, I-60043 Cerreto d'Esi (AN), Italy

doi: 10.7338/pls2014511/05

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abstract

We present here a detailed phytosociological study of the vegetation and the plant landscape of the north-eastern slopes of Monte Sassotetto (Sibillini Mountains, central Apennines), which is part of an extensive skiing area. The findings have revealed the high vegetational diversity of the study area, as shown by the 11 vegetational typologies identified, which are updated with the latest syntaxonomic and nomenclatural revisions. Nine of these belong to Habitats of Community Interest (SCI). The new associations described here are Gentiano luteae-Brachypodietum genuensis, Luzulo sieberi-Brachypodietum genuensis and Dichoropetalo carvifolii-chabraeii-Paeonietum italicae, as well as the subassociations and the syntaxon variants that have already been described in the literature. The geological and geomorphological variability, the vast areas of pasture land that have been long abandoned by traditional human activities, and the management of the ski slopes make this a territory that is indeed representative for the analysis of
the biotic and abiotic ecological factors that can have effects on the phytocoenosis and species diversity. Along with the lithological characteristics, the geomorphology together with the steepness of the slopes and the acidity of the soil are the most significant abiotic factors for the interpretation of the vegetational diversity of this territory. For the grasslands, the study has allowed the indication in particular of Filipendulo vulgaris-Trifolietum montani (Habitat 6210*) as grassland communities at risk of disappearing due to the floristic-vegetational changes. Abandonment of the traditional human practices has triggered the natural dynamic processes of the vegetation. In locations where disturbance has been practically absent for a long time, under conditions of deep soil and prolonged snow cover, there has been progression of the natural dynamic processes. This has also been accelerated by the forest coenoses, which has led to the replacement of the grasslands included in the association Filipendulo vulgaris-Trifolietum montani (Habitat 6210*), with coenoses that are included in the class Trifolio-Geranietea, with the subsequent loss of this Habitat. Finally, the management of the snow cover in the preparation of the ski slopes is one of the ecological factors responsible for the acidification of the slope grasslands of the association Filipendulo vulgaris-Trifolietum montani, which is being replaced by the acidophilous microthermal grasslands of the association Gentiano luteae-Brachypodietum genuensis.

keywords

land abandonment, geology, geomorphology, phytosociology, Habitat Directive, plant landscape, ski slopes