Bryophyte, lichen, and vascular plant communities of badland grasslands show weak cross-taxon congruence but high local uniqueness in biancana pediments

Fanfarillo E., Loppi S., Angiolini C., Bacaro G., Bianchi E., Bonari G., Bonini I., Canali G., Cangelmi G., Cannucci S., Cogoni A., De Giorgi P., Di Nuzzo L., de Simone L., Fiaschi T., Fontana D., Franzoni J., Giacò A., Giordani P., Grattacaso M., Lazzaro L., Martellos S., Mazza I., Mugnai M., Pandeli G., Perini C., Pinzani L., Poponessi S., Ravera S., Salerni E., Stinca A., Tiburtini M., Vallese C. & Maccherini S.
Ecological Indicators
165: 112171 [12 p.]
Cross-taxon congruence, i.e., using certain taxonomic groups as surrogates for others, is receiving growing interest since it may allow decreasing efforts in biodiversity studies. In this work, we investigated the patterns of cross-taxon congruence in species richness and composition between communities of bryophytes, lichens, and vascular plants in different biancana grasslands of a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) of central Italy. We recorded species presence and abundance in 16 plots of 1 × 1 m size and analyzed the data using Procrustes correlation, co-correspondence analysis, and indicator species analysis. We did not highlight any correlation in species richness and composition between the three taxonomic groups. Conversely, the species composition of bryophyte communities was predictive of the species composition of lichen communities. Moreover, lichen richness was negatively correlated with the total cover of vascular plants. Indicator species analysis evidenced the presence of species from the three biotic communities being particularly related, at least at the local scale, to biancana pediments, like the bryophytes Didymodon acutus and Trichostomum crispulum, the lichens Enchylium tenax, Cladonia foliacea, and Psora decipiens, and the vascular plants Brachypodium distachyon, Parapholis strigosa, and Artemisia caerulescens subsp. cretacea. In the biancana pediments, acrocarp mosses, squamulose lichens, therophyte plants and chamaephyte plants coexisted. In spite of the weak cross-taxon congruence between the three taxonomic groups, this study could highlight a locally unique diversity of bryophytes, lichens, and vascular plants related to the extreme environment of biancana pediments, selected by high soil salinity and deposition from the upper eroded slope. Soil erosion and deposition in biancana badlands supports the increase of local multi-taxonomic plant diversity by creating unique ecosystems. Such biodiversity should be considered locally at risk of disappearance, due to the ongoing vanishing of biancana badlands in central Italy. Keywords: Biodiversity surrogate; Cryptogams; Community ecology; Mosses; Multi-taxon.
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