iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Influences of mature Pinus nigra plantations on the floristic-vegetational composition along an altitudinal gradient in the central Apennines, Italy

Marina Allegrezza (1)   , Simone Pesaresi (1), Sandro Ballelli (2), Giulio Tesei (1), Cecilia Ottaviani (1)

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 13, Issue 4, Pages 279-285 (2020)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor3215-013
Published: Jul 03, 2020 - Copyright © 2020 SISEF

Research Articles

Plantations of conifers are widespread in Europe, often occurring outside of their native range. Reduction in species richness linked to increases in altitude has been previously reported for natural forests, although there is a lack of specific studies for mature pine plantations in both the Apennines and Europe. The aim of this study was to quantify the long-term effects of the extensive Pinus nigra plantations carried out between 1900 and 1956 in protected areas on floristic richness, species composition, and ecological traits of the understorey vegetation. We compared 20 mature pine plantations selected along an altitudinal gradient (700-1700 m a.s.l.) with neighbouring deciduous natural forests dominated by Ostrya carpinifolia and Fagus sylvatica, which represent the most widespread forest types in the central Apennines. The results showed that floristic richness follows two distinct altitude trends in pine plantations and natural forests. A strong reduction in species richness with elevation was observed in the natural forests, as well as a consequent increase in the local contribution to beta diversity, with a turnover of the ecological traits of the species. Contrastingly, no significant changes in richness and beta diversity were found for pine plantations in the same altitude range. Indeed, mature pine plantations up to 1400-1500 m a.s.l. showed the presence of many heliophilous and thermophilous species that are usually distributed at lower elevation. We discuss how such pine plantations can mitigate the effect of increasing altitude which is usually observed in the natural forests, slowing down the typical diversification of the forest communities along the altitudinal gradient.


Pinus nigra Plantations, Forest Origin, Richness, Beta-diversity, Altitudinal Gradient, Canopy Filter, Protected Areas, Apennines

Authors’ address

Marina Allegrezza 0000-0003-0770-6551
Simone Pesaresi 0000-0002-3913-4749
Giulio Tesei 0000-0002-8921-8262
Cecilia Ottaviani 0000-0002-7111-6233
Department of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Sciences, Polytechnic University of Marche, v. Brecce Bianche, I-60131 Ancona (Italy)
Sandro Ballelli
School of Environmental Sciences, University of Camerino, v. Pontoni 5, I-62032 Camerino, MC (Italy)

Corresponding author

Marina Allegrezza


Allegrezza M, Pesaresi S, Ballelli S, Tesei G, Ottaviani C (2020). Influences of mature Pinus nigra plantations on the floristic-vegetational composition along an altitudinal gradient in the central Apennines, Italy. iForest 13: 279-285. - doi: 10.3832/ifor3215-013

Academic Editor

Matteo Garbarino

Paper history

Received: Aug 09, 2019
Accepted: Apr 30, 2020

First online: Jul 03, 2020
Publication Date: Aug 31, 2020
Publication Time: 2.13 months

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