Plant and Soil

, Volume 293, Issue 1–2, pp 133–144 | Cite as

Long-term effects of climate and phosphorus fertilisation on serpentine vegetation

  • Alessandro Chiarucci
  • Simona Maccherini
Regular Article


The long-term effects of phosphorus fertilisation and climate on serpentine plant communities in Tuscany, central Italy have been investigated by using data from a 12 year before-after control-impact (BACI) experiment. Using the point quadrat method, data on plant communities were collected in June of each year from 1994 to 2005 in eight 2 × 2 m plots, four fertilised with phosphorus and four used as controls. Climatic data were obtained from a nearby meteorological station and summarised in 24 variables. Phosphorus addition significantly affected vegetation cover of both vascular and cryptogamic vegetation but did not influence species richness. The effects on species composition were clear but not marked, and consisted in promoting the abundance of some species already present in the community but not leading to the colonisation of other species. Interannual climate differences affected vegetation cover in the fertilised plots but not in the control ones, while climate affected the species richness values of different/various life-forms in both groups of plots, with more evident effects in the fertilised one. The effects of climate on plant community composition were weak once both the variability among individual plots and the successional dynamics were subtracted from the variance in species composition.


BACI design Long term effects P addition Ultramafic soils Vegetation dynamics 



We wish to acknowledge Ilaria Bonini (University of Siena) and Selina Bruni for help with field sampling and data management, Riccardo Russu (ARSIA, Pisa), Cinzia Pennisi (ARSIA, Pisa), Fernando Manzella (CFR Toscana) and Massimo Niccolai (CFR Toscana) for providing climatic data and Jan Lepš for suggestions and discussion about the multivariate methods adopted. We also thank the comments provided by three anonymous referees that much improved a previous version of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental Science “G. Sarfatti”University of SienaSienaItaly

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