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Taxonomy and ecology of phryganic communities with Sarcopoterium spinosum (L.) Spach of the Aegean (Greece)

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Phrygana (dwarf-shrub formations similar to batha) are the most common natural vegetation type in the Aegean region. Prickly burnet Sarcopoterium spinosum (L.) Spach is the characteristic species and also the dominant one of many phrygana and batha over the Eastern Mediterranean region. This paper contributes to a phytosociological systematic approach in the study of the Aegean phryganic plant communities with S. Spinosum. The initial classification by TWINSPAN resulted in 20 groups, which were reduced to seven distinctive vegetation units after merging similar groups using the Correspondence Analysis Ordination (CA) results. It appears the Order Sarcopoterietalia spinosi Zohary 1962 is the most suitable for the classification of phryganic ecosystems, because it stresses the important role of S. spinosum in the ecology and dynamics of those communities. The great majority of plant communities were classified in the alliance Sarcopoterion spinosi Zohary 1973, which should be considered synonymous with the alliance Cistion orientale Oberdorfer 1954 and Corydothymion Oberdorfer 1954. The association Sarcopoterietum spinosi Zohary 1947 was recorded in all islands, indicating their floristic similarities. It is further divided in six sub-associations: Sarcopoterietum spinosi Micromerio-Hypericetosum empetrifolium, Sarcopoterietum spinosi Filagetosum gallica, Sarcopoterietum spinosi Lupino angustifolii-Lavanduletosum stoechidis, Sarcopoterietum spinosi Vulpio-Cynosuretosum, Sarcopoterietum spinosi Dauco-Centauretosum idaea, and Sarcopoterietum spinosi Salvio-Phlometosum fruticosa. There is also the association Saturejo-Origanetum Rivas-Martínez 1975, found only in the Northern Aegean with continental influences.

Affiliations: 1: National Agricultural Research Foundation, Forest Research Institute ; 2: Imperial College London, Faculty of Natural Sciences


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