Plant and Soil

, Volume 430, Issue 1–2, pp 185–204 | Cite as

Halophytic plant community patterns in Mediterranean saltmarshes: shedding light on the connection between abiotic factors and the distribution of halophytes

  • Joaquín MorenoEmail author
  • Alejandro Terrones
  • Ana Juan
  • María Ángeles Alonso
Regular Article



Establishing a vegetation-soil model in Mediterranean saltmarshes based on the relationships between the plant communities and the abiotic factors, considering temporary variation.


Relationships between perennial plant species abundances and plant communities were analysed by DCAs. A CCA was performed to study the relationships between floristic composition and edaphic variables. Sixteen soil variables and Pearson correlations between them were considered. Marginal and conditional effects were supported by mixed ANOVA. Statistical analyses were performed to check temporary variation.


DCAs results showed eight vegetation types. CCA showed E.C. as the main gradient, with the succulent halophyte communities growing in high E.C. soils. SAR and percentage of sand were considered as secondary gradients. Finally, the highest values of the edaphic variables were observed, in general, during the cold period.


The main gradient of salinity, together with sodicity and texture gradients, would markedly influence the plant distribution in Mediterranean saltmarshes. Two principal plant zones were observed: succulent zone vs. non-succulent zone, with a specific edaphic distribution for each plant community and for the proposed Limonium morphotypes treatment. A plant-soil model based on these three gradients is here proposed. Our results would complement the previous knowledge about plant-soil relationships in Mediterranean saltmarshes.


Edaphic factors Plant community structure Environmental gradients Quantitative ecology Vegetation distribution 



Analysis of variance


Canonical Correspondence Analysis


Detrended Correspondence Analysis


Electrical conductivity


Plant Available Water Capacity


Sodium Adsorption Ratio



The authors wish to thank Prof. Francesco de Bello and Prof. Petr Šmilauer for the assistance and suggestions in the statistical analyses; Antonio Sánchez and Margarita Juárez for the assistance in the edaphic analyses; Alicia Vicente, José Luis Villar, Jonás Agulló, Manuel Ortiz and Laura Mora for the assistance in fieldwork; and the University of South Bohemia (Czech Republic) for providing CANOCO v.5 (Microcomputer Power, Ithaca, NY, US) to perform the statistical analyses. We greatly appreciate the comments of two anonymous reviewers. This research was supported by project OAPN 354/2011 (M° de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente, Spanish Government) and FPU grant AP-2012-1954 (M° de Educación, Spanish Government). This research has been supported by the Languages Service (University of Alicante) for the elaboration of Ph.D. Theses in Valencian and foreign languages. This research is part of the Ph.D. Thesis of Joaquín Moreno.

Supplementary material

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Figure A1 Canonical Correspondence Analysis (CCA) with E.C. as covariable of forty-three samples of halophytic communities from studied Mediterranean saltmarshes showing correlations between samples and edaphic variables. Arrows indicate the edaphic variables and their directions and length show their relationships to the ordination axes. Edaphic variables abbreviations: E.C., electrical conductivity; Moisture, soil moisture; PAWC, plant available water capacity; SAR, sodium adsorption ratio. Plant community abbreviations: A. macrostachyum, Arthrocaulon macrostachyum; H. strobilaceum, Halocnemum strobilaceum; L. spartum, Lygeum spartum; S. fruticosa, Salicornia fruticosa. (PDF 56 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joaquín Moreno
    • 1
    Email author
  • Alejandro Terrones
    • 1
  • Ana Juan
    • 1
  • María Ángeles Alonso
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Ciencias Ambientales y Recursos Naturales/Instituto de la Biodiversidad CIBIOUniversidad de AlicanteAlicanteSpain

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