EU priority habitats: rethinking Mediterranean coastal pine forests

  • Gianmaria BonariEmail author
  • Alicia Teresa Rosario Acosta
  • Claudia Angiolini
Vegetation Science and Habitats Directive


EU habitats knowledge is essential to better protect nature and to yield well-aimed management decisions. In this study, we analysed a debated habitat influenced by past human planting activities. We compared the Pinus halepensis and the P. pinea forests, belonging to the priority EU habitat 2270*, by means of ecological features provided by the Ellenberg indicator values and diagnostic species selected from “Vegetation of Europe” classes and the “Italian Interpretation Manual of the Dir. 92/43/EEC”. We used 159 vegetation plots in the Italian Peninsula, covering a wide range of this habitat in Italy. We found consistent ecological dissimilarities between Pinus halepensis and P. pinea forests and different diagnostic species. Moreover, P. halepensis forests hosted more diagnostic species of foredune habitats. Finally, we suggest that diagnostic species are a good indicator for studying EU habitat types resemblance, and we highlight the importance of the EU habitat 2270* in Italy, proposing two different subtypes.


Coastal dune vegetation Diagnostic species Ellenberg indicator values Italy 



We appreciate the useful suggestions provided by Milan Chytrý in the early stage of this study. We thank Flavia Landucci and Silvia Cannucci for data preparation, the editor and two anonymous reviewers for useful comments on an earlier version of the manuscript. Adam Kenny and Luca Cilibrasi revised the English.


  1. Abad Viñas R, Caudullo G, Oliveira S, de Rigo D (2016) Pinus pinea in Europe: distribution, habitat, usage and threats. In: San-Miguel-Ayanz J, de Rigo D, Caudullo G, Houston Durrant T, Mauri A (eds) European atlas of forest tree species. Publ Off EU, Luxembourg, p e01b4fcGoogle Scholar
  2. Acosta A, Blasi C, Stanisci A (2000) Spatial connectivity and boundary patterns in coastal dune vegetation in the Circeo National Park, Central Italy. J Veg Sci 11(1):149–154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Acosta A, Ercole S, Stanisci S, Blasi C (2004) Sandy coastal ecosystems and effects of disturbance in Central Italy. J Coast Res 39:985–989Google Scholar
  4. Acosta A, Ercole S, Stanisci A, De Patta Pillar V, Blasi C (2007) Coastal vegetation zonation and dune morphology in some Mediterranean ecosystems. J Coast Res 23:1518–1524CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Agir SU, Kutbay HG, Karaer F, Surmen B (2014) The classification of coastal dune vegetation in Central Black Sea Region of Turkey by numerical methods and EU habitat types. Rend Lincei 25(4):453–460Google Scholar
  6. Angiolini C, Landi M, Pieroni G, Frignani F, Finoia MG, Gaggi C (2013) Soil chemical features as key predictors of plant community occurrence in a Mediterranean coastal ecosystem. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 119:91–100CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Angiolini C, Bonari G, Landi M (2017a) Focal plant species and soil factors in Mediterranean coastal dunes: an undisclosed liaison? Estuar Coast Shelf Sci. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Angiolini C, Viciani D, Bonari G, Lastrucci L (2017b) Habitat conservation prioritization: a floristic approach applied to a Mediterranean wetland network. Plant Biosyst 151(4):598–612CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Benavent-González A, Lumbreras A, Molina JA (2014) Plant communities as a tool for setting priorities in biodiversity conservation: a novel approach to Iberian aquatic vegetation. Biodivers Conserv 23(9):2135–2154CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bertacchi A, Zuffi MAL, Lombardi T (2016) Foredune psammophilous communities and coastal erosion in a stretch of the Ligurian sea (Tuscany, Italy). Rend Fis Acc Lincei 27(4):639–651CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Biondi E (2007) Thoughts on the ecology and syntaxonomy of some vegetation typologies of the Mediterranean coast. Fitosociologia 44(1):3–10Google Scholar
  12. Biondi E, Blasi C, Burrascano S, Casavecchia S, Copiz R, Del Vico E, et al (2009) Manuale Italiano di interpretazione degli habitat della Direttiva 92/43/CEE [Italian manual of interpretation of Habitats Directive 92/43/EEC] Società Botanica Italiana Ministero dell’Ambiente e della tutela del territorio e del mare DPN. habitat. Accessed 15 Nov 2017
  13. Biondi E, Burrascano S, Casavecchia S, Copiz R, Del Vico E, Galdenzi D, Gigante D, Lasen C, Spampinato G, Venanzoni R, Zivkovic L, Blasi C (2012) Diagnosis and syntaxonomic interpretation of Annex I Habitats (Dir 92/43/EEC) in Italy at the alliance level. Plant Sociol 49:5–37Google Scholar
  14. Bonari G, Acosta ATR, Angiolini C (2017a) Mediterranean coastal pine forest stands: understorey distinctiveness or not? Forest Ecol Manag 391:19–28CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Bonari G, Migliorini M, Landi M, Protano G, Fanciulli PP, Angiolini C (2017b) Concordance between plant species, oribatid mites and soil in a Mediterranean stone pine forest. Arthropod Plant Interact 11(1):61–69CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Brockerhoff EG, Jactel H, Parrotta JA, Quine CP, Sayer J (2008) Sayer Plantation forests and biodiversity: oxymoron or opportunity? Biodivers Conserv 17:925–951CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Carboni C, Santoro R, Acosta A (2010) Are some communities of the coastal dune zonation more susceptible to alien plant invasion? J Plant Ecol 3:139–147CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Chambers JM, Cleveland WS, Kleiner B, Tukey PA (1983) Graphical methods for data analysis. Wadsworth, BelmontGoogle Scholar
  19. Chytrý M, Tichý L (2003) Diagnostic, constant and dominant species of vegetation classes and alliances of the Czech Republic: a statistical revision. Folia Fac Sci Nat Un 108:1–231Google Scholar
  20. Chytrý M, Tichý M, Holt J, Botta-Dukát Z (2002) Determination of diagnostic species with statistical fidelity measures. J Veg Sci 13:79–90CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Chytrý M, Tichý M, Holt J (2006) The fidelity concept. In: Tichý L, Holt, J (eds) Juice, program for management, analysis and classification of ecological data. Program manual—Vegetation Science Group, Masaryk University, Brno, pp 45.
  22. Ciccarelli D (2014) Mediterranean coastal sand dune vegetation: influence of natural and anthropogenic factors. Environ Manag 54(2):194–204CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ciccarelli D, Bacaro G, Chiarucci A (2012) Coastline dune vegetation dynamics: evidence of no stability. Folia Geobot 47(3):263–275CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Conti F, Abate G, Alessandrini A, Blasi C (2005) An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora. Palombi Editori, RomaGoogle Scholar
  25. Cowling RM, Knight AT, Faith DP, Ferrier S, Lombard AT, Driver A, Rouget M, Maze K, Desmet PG (2004) Nature conservation requires more than a passion for species. Conserv Biol 18(6):1674–1676CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Del Vecchio S, Prisco I, Acosta ATR, Stanisci A (2015) Changes in plant species composition of coastal dune habitats over a 20-year period. AoB Plants 7:plv018CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Diekmann M (2003) Species indicator values as an important tool in applied plant ecology—a review. Basic Appl Ecol 4:493–506CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Domina G, Pignatti S, Guarino R (2018) Ellenberg’s indicator values for the Flora of Italy—second update: Dicotyledoneae. Fl Medit 28 (in press) Google Scholar
  29. Ellenberg H (1974) Zeigerwerte der Gefäßpflanzen Mitteleuropas. Scr Geobot 9:1–97Google Scholar
  30. Ercole S, Acosta A, Blasi C (2007) Stato delle conoscenze e alterazioni indotte dal disturbo sulle fitocenosi delle coste sabbiose laziali. Fitosociologia 44:105–110Google Scholar
  31. European Commission (2013) Interpretation manual of European union habitats. EUR 28 April 2013 DG Environment Nature ENV B3 144 ppGoogle Scholar
  32. Feola S, Carranza ML, Schaminée JHJ, Janssen JAM, Acosta ATR (2011) EU habitats of interest: an insight into Atlantic and Mediterranean beach and foredunes. Biodivers Conserv 20(7):1457–1468CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Gigante D, Attorre F, Venanzoni R, Acosta ATR, Agrillo E, Aleffi M et al (2016) A methodological protocol for annex I habitats monitoring: the contribution of vegetation science. Plant Sociol 53(2):77–87Google Scholar
  34. Gómez-Serrano MÁ, Sanjaume E, Gracia Prieto FJ (2009) 2270 Dunas con bosques de Pinus pinea y/o Pinus pinaster (*). In: VV.AA., Bases ecológicas preliminares para la conservación de los tipos de hábitat de interés comunitario en España. Ministerio de Medio Ambiente, y Medio Rural y Marino. MadridGoogle Scholar
  35. Guarino R, Domina G, Pignatti S (2012) Ellenberg’s Indicator values for the Flora of Italy—first update: pteridophyta, Gymnospermae and Monocotyledoneae. Fl Medit 22:197–209CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Janssen JAM, Rodwell JS, García Criado M, Gubbay S, Haynes T, Nieto A, Sanders N, Landucci F, Loidi J et al (2016) European red list of habitats—part 2. Terrestrial and Freshwater Habitats Publications Office of the European Union, LuxembourgGoogle Scholar
  37. Jarolímek I, Šibík J (2008) Diagnostic, constant and dominant species of the higher vegetation units of Slovakia. Veda, BratislavaGoogle Scholar
  38. Lepš J, Šmilauer P (2003) Multivariate analysis of ecological data using CANOCO. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Malavasi M, Santoro R, Cutini M, Acosta ATR, Carranza ML (2013) What has happened to coastal dunes in the last half century? A multitemporal coastal landscape analysis in Central Italy. Landsc Urban Plan 119:54–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mauri A, Di Leo M, de Rigo D, Caudullo G (2016) Pinus halepensis and Pinus brutia in Europe: distribution, habitat, usage and threats. In: San-Miguel-Ayanz J, de Rigo D, Caudullo G, Houston Durrant T, Mauri A (eds) European atlas of forest tree species. Publ Off EU, Luxembourg, p e0166b8Google Scholar
  41. Mucina L, Bültmann H, Dierßen K et al (2016) Vegetation of Europe: hierarchical floristic classification system of vascular plant, bryophyte, lichen, and algal communities. Appl Veg Sci 19:3–264CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Pignatti S, Menegoni P, Pietrosanti S (2005) Bioindicazione attraverso le piante vascolari Valori di indicazione secondo Ellenberg (Zeigerwerte) per le specie delle Flora d’Italia. Braun-Blanquetia 39:1–97Google Scholar
  43. Prisco I, Acosta ATR, Ercole S (2012) An overview of the Italian coastal dune EU habitats. Ann di Bot 2:39–48Google Scholar
  44. Pyšek P, Chocholoušková Z, Pyšek A, Jarošík V, Chytrý M, Tichý L (2004) Trends in species diversity and composition of urban vegetation over three decades. J Veg Sci 15(6):781–788CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. R Core Team (2015) R: a language and environment for statistical computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria. Accessed 20 Nov 2017
  46. Schaffers AP, Sýkora KV (2000) Reliability of Ellenberg indicator values for moisture, nitrogen and soil reaction: a comparison with field measurements. J Veg Sci 11(2):225–244CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Smart SM, Scott WA (2004) Bias in Ellenberg indicator values—problems with detection of the effect of vegetation type. J Veg Sci 15(6):843–846Google Scholar
  48. Sperandii MG, Prisco I, Stanisci A, Acosta A (2017) RanVegDunes-A random plot database of Italian coastal dunes. Phytocoenologia 47:231–232CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. The Plant List (2013) Version 1.1 published on the internet. Accessed 10 May 2016
  50. Tichý L (2002) JUICE, Software for vegetation classification. J Veg Sci 13:451–453CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Whittaker RH (1962) Classification of natural communities. Bot Rev 28:1–239CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Wildi O (2016) Why mean indicator values are not biased. J Veg Sci 27(1):40–49CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Zelený D, Schaffers AP (2012) Too good to be true: pitfalls of using mean Ellenberg indicator values in vegetation analyses. J Veg Sci 23(3):419–431CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Botany and ZoologyMasaryk UniversityBrnoCzech Republic
  2. 2.Department of SciencesUniversity of Roma TRERomeItaly
  3. 3.Department of Life SciencesUniversity of SienaSienaItaly

Personalised recommendations