Community Ecology

, Volume 7, Issue 1, pp 35–41 | Cite as

Comparison of native and alien plant traits in Mediterranean coastal dunes

  • A. AcostaEmail author
  • C. F. Izzi
  • A. Stanisci


This study is part of a general project to analyse the biological and ecological mechanisms that influence the invasion of Mediterranean sand dune ecosystems by alien plants. In this paper we analyse the morphological and functional traits of coastal dune wild species (natives and aliens) based mainly on information from the literature. The most common 130 wild species occurring on the recent (Holocenic) coastal dunes were included considering the invasive status of alien plants. A comparative analysis of functional groups was performed through ordination techniques (PCoA using the Gower index). This reveals four functional groups related to the most important plant communities in coastal vegetation zonation. Alien plants were found in all functional groups and no trait or set of traits was specifically related to them. This indicates that aliens show similar traits to those natives growing in different communities of the coastal dune zonation, from the small beach annuals to the evergreen taller shrubs of the Mediterranean macchia. When the invasive status of alien species was taken into account, however, some differences emerged: a) casual aliens were found in almost all groups but their traits were not interpreted as being due to any particular adaptive strategy; b) naturalised aliens were only found in the less fluctuating habitats of the inner coastal zones; c) invasive alien species were connected with two major plant strategies: annual invasive aliens (quick-to-mature low grasses and herbs) and perennial invasive aliens (taller and often strongly clonal).


Central Italy Coastal communities Exotic species Functional groups Gower index Multivariate analysis 



Principal Coordinates Analysis


Nomenclature of species follows Conti et al. (2005) Owing to taxonomical problems that are yet to be clearly resolved Carpobrotus edulis and Carpobrotus acinaciformis (Akeroyd and Preston 1990, Suehs et al. 2004) were considered as a complex: Carpobrotus spp. 

Nomenclature of syntaxa

Nomenclature of syntaxa: follows the syntaxonomical synthesis proposed by Biondi (1999) and by Diez Garretas et al. (2003) and according to the rules of the Phytosociological Code (Weber et al. 2000) 


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© Akadémiai Kiadó, Budapest 2006

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di BiologiaUniversità degli Studi di Roma TreRomaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie per l’Ambiente e il TerritorioUniversità degli Studi del MoliseIserniaItaly

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