Publication details

The class Adiantetea in Georgia: a rare relict fern community in the South Caucasus



Year of publication 2024
Type Article in Periodical
Magazine / Source Biologia
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Science

Keywords Adiantum capillus-veneris; Bryophyte; Caucasus; Endangered habitat; Phytosociology; Syntaxonomy
Description Relict vegetation of water-splashed petrifying rocks with calcareous tufa formation dominated by the fern Adiantum capillus-veneris and wetland bryophytes (phytosociological class Adiantetea) was investigated in Georgia, Caucasus biodiversity hotspot. The study brings the first phytosociological data on this scarce community in the Caucasus based on a novel dataset of vegetation plot records. A classification analysis revealed two main vegetation communities. They are represented by the Caucasian community recorded in the Mtkvari River valley inside the Tbilisi city (E Georgia) and the Colchic community developed under the humid, warm-temperate climate of Colchis (W Georgia), one of the key refugia of Tertiary flora across W Eurasia. To compare newly recorded vegetation types and so far described associations of the Adiantetea class, we used a broader dataset of the analogous communities reported from Europe and surroundings. It associated the Caucasian community with the pan-Mediterranean association Eucladio-Adiantetum. It was characterized by subhalophytes (e.g. Samolus valerandi), Eucladium verticillatum as a dominant bryophyte, and the absence of relict or endemic vascular plant species. The Colchic community represented a previously undescribed community. Therefore, we designated a new association Saxifrago cymbalariae-Adiantetum capilli-veneris delineated by the characteristic species of the Colchic-Caucasian territory (e.g. Hedera colchica, Saxifraga cymbalaria) and Palustriella commutata as the dominant bryophyte. Both associations belong to the Mediterranean-Atlantic alliance Adiantion. Described communities require conservation attention for their rarity, refugial character and presence of relict and endemic species. Modifications of the hydrological regime and construction activities are among their most important potential threats.
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