Fagus sylvatica forest vegetation in Greece: Syntaxonomy and gradient analysis



Abstract. This is the first comprehensive study on Fagus sylvatica s.l. forest communities in Greece. It is based on the multivariate analysis of more than 1100 relevés throughout the distribution area of Fagus in Greece, 60 % of which have been sampled within the last 15 years. The data were compiled from all relevant literature and from unpublished field studies. Prior to data analysis, taxonomic and floristic inaccuracies in older literature have been corrected, and some taxa aggregated. Status and distribution of Fagus in Greece, as well as historical and silvicultural aspects, are outlined. Classification resulted in 16 vegetation types defined by species composition, of which 10 units are ranked as association (of which two were described as new) or community, with six subcommunities included. Synonyms from the literature are given to all types. The floristic structure of the data set is displayed by a synoptic table and by DCA ordination. Community differentiation follows a complex edaphic-climatic-phytogeographic pattern. Apart from Fagus sylvatica ssp. orientalis forests of warm and dry habitats and low to medium altitudes which are related to deciduous Quercus forests, four Fagion community groups are distinguished which represent different habitat types: (1) cool, humid, mesotrophic; (2) cool, acidic; (3) high altitude, calcareous; (4) medium altitude, moderately warm and dry. The communities may be assigned to three regional suballiances, viz. (a) Doronico orientalis-Fagenion at medium altitudes of North-Central and East-Central Greece; (b) Doronico columnae-Fagenion in the far north and at high altitudes southward to East-Central Greece; (c) Geranio striati-Fagenion in the Northwest. Various types of thermophilous beech forest are assigned to (a) and (c), acidic forest to (b), and mesic Fagus forest to (b) and (c).