PUBLICATION on Multiple drivers of plant diversity in coastal dunes

Multiple drivers of plant diversity in coastal dunes: A Mediterranean experience


a Dipartimento di Scienze, Universita degli Studi Roma Tre, Viale G. Marconi 446, 00146 Roma, Italy
b Envix-Lab, Dipartimento di Bioscienze e Territorio, Universita degli Studi del Molise, Contrada Fonte Lappone, 86090 Pesche, IS, Italy
c Department of Applied Geoinformatics and Spatial Planning, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Czech University of Life Sciences, Kamycka 129, 165 21 Prague 6, Czech Republic

In light of the global biodiversity loss, syntheses of the available knowledge about drivers of biodiversity are becoming increasingly important. However, despite the high number of studies analyzing patterns of plant species diversity, few attempts have been made to synthesize findings within different ecosystems. In this work, the relative role of a wide set of predictors imputable to three conceptual-methodological domains (abiotic, human-mediated disturbance and landscape domain, hereafter AD, DD and LD) was simultaneously analyzed in 644 random plots distributed along the coastal dunes of Central Italy. Native species richness and focal species cover, both field-recorded, were used as response variables. Predictors pertaining to the three domains were derived from both field surveys and high-resolution remotely sensed imagery (LiDAR and orthophotos). To test how AD, DD and LD affect native species richness and focal species cover, a GLM and a linear model were fitted respectively. The three domains were then ranked according to their relative importance.

Although the role of the three domains was always significant, they turned out to unequally contribute to the explanation of native species richness and focal species cover patterns. For Mediterranean coastal dune ecosystems, AD appears to be the key biodiversity driver, followed by DD and LD. Our results suggest that as long as human disturbance is limited, plant diversity will distribute according to species abiotic tolerances, regardless of habitat loss and fragmentation per se. Representing a first effort towards a synthesis of plant diversity drivers in coastal dunes, this work points to the importance, in Mediterranean coastal dune ecosystems, of zonation dynamics, whose occurrence should be addressed as a priority issue by efficient conservations strategies.



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