Grasslands of Navarre (Spain), focusing on the Festuco-Brometea: classification, hierarchical expert system and characterisation

García-Mijangos, Itziar
Berastegi, Asun
Biurrun, Idoia
Dembicz, Iwona
JaniŠová, Monika
Kuzemko, Anna
Vynokurov, Denys
Ambarlı, Didem
Etayo, Javier
Filibeck, Goffredo
Jandt, Ute
Natcheva, Rayna
Dengler, Juergen
Aims: To clarify the syntaxonomic position of the grasslands in Navarre, with special focus on the dry grasslands, and to characterise the resulting syntaxonomic units in terms of diagnostic species and ecological conditions. Study area: Navarre (northern Spain). Methods: We sampled 119 plots of 10 m2 following the standardised EDGG methodology and analysed them together with 839 plots of similar size recorded in the 1990. For the classification, we used the modified TWINSPAN algorithm, complemented by the determination of diagnostic species with phi coefficients of association, which led to the creation of an expert system. We conducted these steps in a hierarchical manner for each syntaxonomic rank. We visualised the position of the syntaxa along environmental gradients by means of NMDS. Species richness, and structural and ecological characteristics of the syntaxa were compared by ANOVAs. Results: We could clearly identify five phytosociological classes: Lygeo-Stipetea, Festuco-Brometea, Molinio-Arrhenatheretea, Nardetea strictae, and Elyno-Seslerietea. Within the Festuco-Brometea a xeric and a meso-xeric order could be distinguished, with two alliances each, and eight associations in total: Thymelaeo-Aphyllanthetum, Jurineo-Festucetum, Helianthemo-Koelerietum, Prunello-Plantaginetum, Carduncello-Brachypodietum, Helictotricho-Seslerietum, Calamintho-Seselietum and Carici-Teucrietum. Conclusions: The combination of numerical methods allowed a consistent and more objective classification of grassland types in Navarre than previous approaches. At the association level, we could largely reproduce the units previously described with traditional phytosociological methods. By contrast, at higher syntaxonomic level, our analyses suggest significant modifications. Most importantly, a major part of the units traditionally included in the Festuco-Ononidetea seem to fall within the Festuco-Brometea. We could show that bryophytes and lichens are core elements of these grasslands and particularly the Mediterranean ones of Lygeo-Stipetea, both in terms of biodiversity and of diagnostic species. We conclude that the combination of our different numerical methods is promising for deriving more objective and reproducible delimitations of syntaxa in a hierarchical manner.
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Citation Formats
I. García-Mijangos et al., “Grasslands of Navarre (Spain), focusing on the Festuco-Brometea: classification, hierarchical expert system and characterisation,” Vegetation Classification and Survey, vol. 2, pp. 0–231, 2021, Accessed: 00, 2022. [Online]. Available: