The order Quercetalia virgilianae: a new proposal for the classification of semi-deciduous forests in the Mediterranean and sub-Mediterranean area.

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Abstract

The semi-deciduous oaks belonging to Quercus pubescens s.l. group (Q. congesta C. Presl, Q. virgiliana(Ten.) Ten., Q. dalechampii Ten., Q. amplifolia Guss. and Q. leptobalanus Guss.) are widespreadin the Italian Peninsula, Sicily, Sardinia and along the southern coasts of the Balkanpeninsula and more generally in the whole Mediterranean area, especially in the transition zonebetween the temperate and Mediterranean macrobioclimate identified by the sub-mediterraneanvariant (Brullo et al., 1999). These forests are currently expanding rapidly because of thedecreased anthropic exploitation.The syntaxonomic classification of these forest typologies is quite critical, because their floristiccomposition includes a rich contingent of thermophilous species traditionally belonging to theclass Quercetea ilicis alongside species more mesophilous typical of the thermophilous forests ofthe class Querco-Fagetea. The importance of these two groups of species varies with latitude anddistance from the sea, determining various forms of transition. Therefore, some associationsdominated by Quercus virgiliana are included in the order Quercetalia ilicis – the basifilous onesin the alliance Fraxino orni-Quercion ilicis, while the acidophilous ones in the alliance Erico-Quercion ilicis – while other associations are classified in the order Quercetalia-pubescenti-petraeae- suballiance Lauro-Quercenion pubescentis of the Carpinion orientalis in central Italy and inthe alliance Pino calabricae-Quercion congestae, suballiance Quercenion virgilianae in southernItaly.The aim of the present study is to demonstrate that the different types of oak forests dominatedby Q. virgiliana, Q. amplifolia and other species of the same group belong to the new ordernamed Quercetalia virgilianae.The statistical elaborations carried out support this choice and are crucial in order to determinethe hierarchical lower ranks and identify diagnostic species.The proposal of the new order is part of the project started with the implementation of Prodromeof the Italian vegetation (Biondi et al. 2014) that, relying on a set of core principles(Biondi et al., 2015), aims to give importance to the syntaxa typical of the sub-Mediterraneanarea, where phytocoenotic biodiversity is very high, but not enhanced by the current syntaxonomicclassification.The importance of highlighting the originality of woodlands with Quercus virgiliana of the sub-Mediterranean zones coincides with the conservation purposes of the Habitats Directive and inparticular the recognition of the existence in Italy of the habitat 91AA.
Lingua originaleEnglish
Pagine50-50
Numero di pagine1
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2017

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