Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 633–646 | Cite as

Hard times for Italian coastal dunes: insights from a diachronic analysis based on random plots

  • Marta Gaia Sperandii
  • Irene Prisco
  • Alicia Teresa Rosario Acosta
Original Paper
  • 66 Downloads

Abstract

Multi-year temporal studies are invaluable tools for monitoring changes in biodiversity through time. However, their applications in coastal ecosystems are still scarce. We investigated temporal trends in coastal dunes analyzing a set of 858 randomly-sampled georeferenced relevés performed between 2002 and 2015 along Central Italy’s sandy coastlines. Specifically, we explored changes in species richness and cover of targeted sandy habitats, we investigated trends in the cover of selected psammophilous native species and we assessed patterns of invasion by means of regression techniques. We observed a significant decrease in species richness and cover of the dune grasslands habitat. The species-level analysis confirmed a negative trend for two characteristic species of dune grasslands, Cutandia maritima and Medicago littoralis, while revealing a similar decline for Crucianella maritima and for Ammophila arenaria subsp. australis, key species of mobile dunes. The most striking trends emerged analyzing patterns in the cover of an invasive alien species, Carpobrotus sp., which showed a concerning increase in shifting dunes. In conclusion, our analyses reveal concerning changes involving dune grasslands, and at the same time hint at “early warnings” of degradation processes traceable in shifting dunes.

Keywords

Temporal trends Sand dunes Alien species Habitat conservation Coastal habitats Vegetation database 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We are very grateful to Francesca Izzi, Carlotta Fabbri, Silvia Del Vecchio, Marta Carboni, Riccardo Santoro, Cristina Berardi, Barbara Valentini and Alessandro Ialongo for participating in field sampling activities. We are also thankful to two anonymous reviewers for providing helpful comments which significantly contributed to improve the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10531_2017_1454_MOESM1_ESM.docx (19 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 19 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di ScienzeUniversità degli Studi Roma TreRomeItaly
  2. 2.Envix-Lab, Dipartimento di Bioscienze e TerritorioUniversità degli Studi del MolisePescheItaly

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