The vegetation of the high mountains of Crete a revision and multivariate analysis
The vegetation at elevations above 1,400 m in the south Aegean island of Crete (Greece) is studied and revised. By means of phytosociological classification (assisted by TWINSPAN) and ordination (Detrended correspondence analysis, DCA), the plant communities and abiotic (environmental, geographical) factors governing the variance in vegetation are described and discussed. The analyses are based on 492 sample plots from the three major mountain ranges of Crete. All published data available, as well as own unpublished relevés are included. Since the plots differ much with respect to species number and plot size, and to combine different subsets and different data properties, various data sets are used for DCA ordination. Data on environmental variables are used supplementarily. Ordination results suggest the following factors to be of major effect on the variance in vegetation: Rock type, soil type, altitude, geographical situation, degree of substrate fixation, and inclination. The representation of local and regional endemics in the vegetation increases with altitude and along the habitat type series: phrygana and woodland fixed slopes dolines screes. A synoptic table of 26 columns (vegetation types and subtypes) is presented. The vegetation consists of the tragacanth formation of fixed slopes (8 columns), swards and scrub of doline grounds (9), scree vegetation (4), and rupicolous chasmophytic vegetation (2). Phrygana (2) and woodland vegetation (1) are marginal. A hierarchical conspectus of the syntaxa is provided which includes the following nomenclaturally relevant new or validated names of various ranks (in alphabetic order): Alysso sphaciotici-Valantion apricae, Arenario fragillimae-Silenetum antri-jovis, Arenarion creticae, Astragalion cretici, Berberido creticae-Astragaletum cretici, Cicero incisi-Silenetum variegatae, Colchico cretensis-Cirsion morinifolii, Fumano paphlagonicae-Helianthemetum hymettii, Gypsophilo nanae-Arenarietum creticae, Hyperico kelleri-Anchusetum cespitosae, Lomelosio sphacioticae-Centranthetum sieberi, Paronychio macrosepalae-Juniperetum oxycedri, Saturejo spinosae-Scutellarietalia hirtae, Sideritido syriacae-Verbascetum spinosi, Verbascion spinosi.