Bryophytes as ecological indicators in the beech woods of Sicily

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Beech woods, which have in Sicily one of the southernmost places of their distributionarea, are localized in the mountain belt of North and North-Eastern Sicily, at an altitude of1300-1900 m, reaching 900 m on the Peloritani. They are referred to the priority habitat9210*, according to the Natura 2000 network of the European Union. Beech woods settleon different soils, such as incoherent sandy volcanic (Etna), calcareous or silico-arenaceous (Madonie) and clayey-schistose soils (Nebrodi and Peloritani). Bryophytes are considered important components of forestry ecosystems. Many of these organisms are specific to particular types of microhabitats and sensitive to changes such that species richness, abundance and specific composition, are directly correlated to microhabitat quality.Thus, bryophytes are able to provide information on the state of health of forestry ecosystems, pointing out where it is appropriate to perform restoration interventions. The analysisof the Sicilian beech woods, carried out using biological and ecological parameters (lifeform, life strategy, ecological indices, human impact), has emphasized a high rate ofbryophyte diversity with more than 170 species, some of which are threatened and candidate to the inclusion in the new European red list. A multivariate analysis was used toexamine the bryophyte composition of beech woods, showing a high diversification of thefloras of different mountain ranges. Overall, it is a very peculiar bryoflora, when comparedwith that of other Italian beech forests. Data obtained from ecological and biologicalparameters are consistent with the climatic, microclimatic and edaphic characteristics ofexamined woods. The human impact, although not high, is present, mostly on the Etna.Sicilian beech woods, for their peculiarity highlighted also from the bryophyte flora, mustbe protected and supervised for their persistence over time. Thus, it is necessary to monitorthese forests to plan any restoration with a more effective vigilance on Etna beech woods.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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