AN OVERVIEW OF THE ITALIAN COASTAL DUNE EU HABITATS
Keywords:coastal dune zonation, psammophilous vegetation, phytosociological relevés, Habitats Directive, dune habitats conservation, national database
In Europe, as in Italy, there is a long phytosociological tradition and a huge amount of vegetation plots has been performed. Considering the critical conservation status of coastal habitats, highlighted by the second Italian Report about the implementation of Habitats Directive (93/42/CEE), we aim to investigate the state of knowledge on Italian coastal dunes vegetation at national level. We built a national database recording 2666 phytosociological relevés concerning 10 dune habitats, most conducted from 1980 to present day. We conducted an explorative meta-analysis through DCA and we described Italian beach and dune EU habitats, focusing on the floristic and coenological information derived from published studies and from interpretation manuals of Habitats Directive. The DCA reflected the gradual turnover of the vegetation, ranging from upper beach habitats to fixed dune habitats. The most part of habitats are widespread throughout the Italian coasts and are represented by a consistent number of samples. Insular areas are characterized by a high number of species and phytosociological associations, often rare or endemic. However, the most part of EU dunes habitats has a bad or inadequate conservation status. This database could be useful for the monitoring and surveillance of EU habitat and species, as required by Habitats Directive.