Plant Sociology 51 (2) 2014

pag. 3-17: The disappearance of traditional agricultural landscapes in the Mediterranean basin. The case of almond orchards in Central Italy

  1. R. Frattaroli1, S. Ciabò1, G. Pirone1, D. M. Spera2, A. Marucci1& B. Romano3

1Department of Life, Health and Environmental Sciences (MESVA), University of L’Aquila, Via Vetoio, Coppito, I-67100 L’Aquila, Italy.

2Consortium for Applied Research in Biotechnology (CRAB), Via Sandro Pertini 106 -I-67051 Avezzano (AQ), Italy.

3Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering (DICEAA), University of L’Aquila, Via Giovanni Gronchi 18, Zona Industriale di Pile -I-67100 L’Aquila, Italy

doi: 10.7338/pls2014512/01 

The inland areas of the Mediterranean basin are characterised by numerous traditional agricultural landscapes. These areas have also been subjected to rapid land-use changes, and in particular, to a steep decline in the agricultural acreage. Therefore, many traditional landscapes are at risk of becoming ‘forgotten’ landscapes and of disappearing. This report aims to highlight this trend through the description of a case study of the almond landscape in the central Apennines (Italy). The study follows an investigation of the almond landscape evolution carried out through bibliographic documentation and geographical information system analysis. The purpose is two-fold: to characterise the almond landscape as a traditional rural landscape; and to highlight what the components are that show that this traditional landscape is in danger of disappearing.

pag. 17-28: Phytosociological characterization of the Celtis tournefortii subsp. aetnensis microwoods in Sicily

L. Gianguzzi1, D. Cusimano1 & S. Romano2

1Department of Agricultural and Forest Sciences, University of Palermo, Via Archirafi 38 – I-90123 Palermo, Italy.

2Department of Earth and Marine Sciences, University of Palermo, Via Archirafi 22 – I-90123 Palermo, Italy.

doi: 10.7338/pls2014512/02 

A work on the Celtis tournefortii subsp. aetnensis vegetation, endemic species located in disjointed sites in the Sicilian inland, is here presented. It forms microwoods with a relict character established on screes and detrital coverages, on a variety of lithological substrates (volcanics, limestones, quartzarenites). Based on the phytosociological analysis carried out in the territory, these vegetation aspects are framed in the alliance Oleo-Ceratonion, within which a new association (Pistacio terebinthi-Celtidetum aetnensis) is described, in turn diversified in the following subassociations: a) typicum subass. nova, on detrital calcareous cones of the north-western part of Sicily, in the Palermo province (Rocca Busambra, Pizzo Castelluzzo and northern slopes of Pizzo Telegrafo); b) phlomidetosum fruticosae subass. nova, typical of carbonate megabreccias, on the most xeric southern slopes of Pizzo Telegrafo (Caltabellotta territory, Agrigento province); c) artemisietosum arborescentis subass. nova, typical of quartzarenitic outcrops on the Nebrodi Mts. inland (Cesarò territory, Messina province); d) rhamnetosum alaterni subass. nova, widespread on cracked lava flows of the western side of Mount Etna (Catania province).

pag. 29-56: Vegetation of Lakes Chiusi and Montepulciano (Siena, central Italy): updated knowledge and new discoveries

L. Lastrucci1, G. Bonari2, C. Angiolini2, F. Casini2, T. Giallonardo3, D. Gigante4, M. Landi2, F. Landucci5, R. Venanzoni4 & D. Viciani1

1Department of Biology, University of Florence, Via La Pira 4, I-50121 Florence, Italy.

2Department of Life Sciences, University of Siena, Via P.A. Mattioli 4, I-53100 Siena, Italy.

3Department of Life, Health & Environmental Sciences, University of L’Aquila, Piazza Salvatore Tommasi 1, I- 67010 L’Aquila – Coppito, Italy.

4Department of Chemistry, Biology and Biotechnology, University of Perugia, Borgo XX giugno 74, I-06121 Perugia, Italy.

5Department of Botany and Zoology, Masaryk University Kotlářská 2, CZ-611 37 Brno, Czech Republic.

doi: 10.7338/pls2014512/03

The aquatic and hygrophilous vegetation of Lakes Chiusi and Montepulciano (Siena, central Italy) was studied according to the phytosociological method. The survey led to the identification of 44 community types belonging to 10 syntaxonomic classes. A comparison between the current and past situation is also shown, taking into account the main floristic and phytosociological literature sources for the study areas. Some coenoses dominated by rare species at the national or regional scale were detected, such as Najadetum minorisPotamo perfoliati-Vallisnerietum spiralisEleocharis acicularis community, Mentho aquaticae-Caricetum pseudocyperiThelypterido palustris-Phragmitetum australis and Eleocharito palustris-Hippuridetum vulgaris. Seven habitats are important for nature conservation according to the European Directive 92/43/EEC. Two other habitats are considered of regional interest according to Tuscan legislation. Moreover, this study emphasises the presence of several communities of great naturalistic and phytogeographic importance which are currently not included in any habitat of conservation interest. Similar to many other wetland systems across the Italian peninsula, the survey showed that the study areas still host a remarkable floristic and vegetation biodiversity, in spite of strong anthropogenic pressures putting at risk their conservation in the long term.

pag. 57-68: The Daphne sericea Vahl vegetation in the Gargano promontory (Southern Italy)

E. Biondi, N. Biscotti, S. Pesaresi & S. Casavecchia

Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences (D3A), Marche Polytechnic University, Via Brecce Bianche, I-60131 Ancona, Italy.

doi: 10.7338/pls2014512/04 

The vegetation with Daphne sericea Vahl occurring in the eastern sector of the Gargano Promontory (southern Italy) is presented here. Daphne sericea is an evergreen and nano-phanerophyte species occurring in the central and eastern part of the European Mediterranean basin. In Italy, it is present in some Tyrrhenian coastal areas, whereas along the Adriatic coasts it occurs in the Gargano area and in Tremiti Islands. In the Gargano area, Daphne sericea occurs mainly in the eastern part of the promontory where it is found on formations of Majolica rich in lists and chert nodules. The phytosociological study of this area allowed us to describe a new association of microforest dominated by Juniperus oxycedrus subsp. oxycedrus, named Daphno sericeae-Juniperetum oxycedri differentiated into two subassociations: oleetosum sylvestris and quercetosum virgilianae.
Daphne sericea is the characteristic species of the new holm-oak association named Anemono apenninae-Quercetum ilicis that occurs even in the new subassociation quercetosun dalechampii, indicating the transition to the mesophilus and acidophilus formations of deciduous forests.
Daphne sericea is also abundant in the undergrowth of two deciduous forest formations where it helps to differentiate two new subassociations which are daphnetosum sericeae of the association Cyclamino hederifolii-Quercetum virgilianae and daphnetosum sericeae of the association Physospermo verticillati-Quercetum cerris. In addition to the forest coenoses indicated, it was possible to recognize an association of nanophanerophytic vegetation named Daphno sericeae-Cistetum monspeliensis. The syntaxonomical scheme of the studied vegetation is proposed.
In the conclusions, the high colonizing ability of Daphne sericea is highlighted, indeed, it is able to participate in such diverse plant communities in a geomorphological enclave so particular because of the characteristics of the substrate.

pag. 69-82: Patterns of floristic variation on a montane beech forest in the central Apennines (central Italy)

A. Scolastri, L. Cancellieri, M. Iocchi & M. Cutini

Department of Sciences, University of Roma Tre, V.le Marconi 446, I -00146, Roma, Italy.

doi: 10.7338/pls2014512/05

Climate, history and human land use have a strong influence on the distribution and floristic composition of beech forest communities. In the last 50 years, the decrease in human activities has led to the resumption of reforestation dynamics, so a certain variability in floristic composition is expected. We aim to identify the causes of local floristic variability in different stands of beech forests, integrating floristic, structural and ecological analysis.
Cluster analysis and Indicator Species Analysis (ISA) were performed to highlight floristic differences; the clusters obtained were compared through environmental and topographic variables, Ellenberg indicator values, life forms, Social Behaviour Types (SBT) and structural parameters. The species heterogeneity derives from a climatic and edaphic gradient. Two main types of beech forests were recognized: a microthermal one, placed at higher altitudes and cooler aspects (Cardamino kitaibelii – Fagetum sylvaticae
), and the termophilous one, lying at lower altitudes and warmer aspects (Lathyro veneti – Fagetum sylvaticae). SBT and structural parameters were useful for detecting the effects of dynamic processes of reforestation.
The integration of the floristic, structural and ecological analysis led to an accurate coenological overview of the beech forest communities and to the detection of the natural reforestation processes currently ongoing.

pag. 83-116: The dolina system vegetation of the northern glacio-karst sector of the Asiago Plateau (Venetian Prealps – NE Italy)

L. Giovagnoli1 & S. Tasinazzo2

1Via Orione 14, I-36055, Nove (VI), Italy.

2Via Gioberti 6, I-36100, Vicenza, Italy.

doi: 10.7338/pls2014512/06 

The paper describes the glacio-karst basin and dolina vegetation of the subcontinental enclave in the northern sector of the Asiago Plateau (south-eastern Prealps). Eleven associations were recognized in the lowest parts of dolina systems where the snow melting is delayed and exclusively chamaephytic/hemicryptophytic coenoses develop. They belong to Arabidion caeruleaeCaricion ferrugineaeLoiseleurio-VaccinionNardion strictaeOxytropido-ElynionSeslerion variae and Soldanello alpinae-Salicion retusae alliances. Two new coenoses are described: Salicetum reticulato-breviserratae and Salici reticulatae-Caricetum rupestris. Some new geographical variants are proposed too. The high phytogeographic value of this calcareous prealpine plateau characterized by relict tundra vegetation surviving the more thermophilous phases that followed the Last Glacial Maximum is proved.

pag. 117-129: Analysis of forest diversity in an area of high presence of Taxus baccata and Ilex aquifolium. The study case in the central Apennines (Italy)

  1. Zitti, S. Casaveccchia, S. Pesaresi, F. Taffetani & E. Biondi

Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences (D3A), Marche Polytechnic University, Via Brecce Bianche, I-60131 Ancona, Italy.

doi: 10.7338/pls2014512/07

This is a detailed study of the Taxus baccata coenosis and other related woods of the calcareous ridge of Cingoli, as part of the lower peaks of the Umbria-Marche Apennines. This entire calcareous ridge has already undergone phytosociological studies. The aim of this study is to highlight the vegetation diversity of the biotope, as correlated with the complex morphology of the valley, its different ecological conditions, and the human activity
of coppicing. The study area is the ‘Macchia delle Tassinete’ Site of Community Importance, and it is the third lowest peak positioned between the Marche Apennines and the Adriatic Sea, with a NE-SW orientation. It is also characterised by the presence of populations of yew (T. baccata) and holly (Ilex aquifolium). The yew is found throughout the Italian regions, although in isolated and extremely limited areas, as relict forms of the Tertiary that have been preserved to date. These enclaves are present throughout the central-southern Apennines, but the object of the present study is certainly one of the largest and easternmost remaining areas for T. baccata in central Italy.
The plant communities dominated by yew are in the first part of the valley of the river Fosso delle Scalette. Here, the exposure to humid winds coming from the sea and the northern quadrants creates microclimatic conditions that are suitable for the development of T. baccata, which grows best on calcareous substrates and in an oceanic climate. This coenosis is attributed to the new association Staphyleo pinnatae-Taxetum baccatae.
Despite the low altitude, in the more shady and humid areas, there is a beech forest suited to low altitudes that includes yew, which has allowed the description of the new association Asparago acutifolii-Fagetum sylvaticae. This new association has been attributed to the new suballiance described here for the first time, named Lathyro veneti-Fagenion, included in the alliance Aremonio-Fagion. This new suballiance groups together the thermophilus beech forests of the mesotemperate bioclimatic belt of the central Apennines.
Along the slopes, on a narrow but flat terrace where the soil is deep and fresh, there is an original wood dominated by Quercus cerris with abundant Ilex aquifolium and other mesophilus trees. This has been attributed to the new association Taxo baccatae-Quercetum cerris, which also occurs with the subassociation fagetosum sylvaticae, and is included in the endemic Italian alliance Physospermo-Quercion cerris.
In the sunny and dry areas, species of the order Fagetalia decrease, and the beech forest gives way to forest dominated by Ostrya carpinifolia that has been attributed to the association Scutellario columnae-Ostryetum carpinifoliae. There are also more thermophilus woods that are dominated by white oak and are rich in Mediterranean species, and have thus been attributed to the association Roso sempervirentis-Quercetum virgilianae.
In conclusion, the importance of the conservation of this rich diversity in forest typologies is highlighted by their inclusion in the different European Union Habitats, sensu Habitats Directive.