iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry


Exploring patterns, drivers and structure of plant community composition in alien Robinia pseudoacacia secondary woodlands

Thomas Campagnaro (1), Juri Nascimbene (1-2), Stefano Tasinazzo (3), Giovanni Trentanovi (1), Tommaso Sitzia (1)   

iForest - Biogeosciences and Forestry, Volume 11, Issue 5, Pages 586-593 (2018)
doi: https://doi.org/10.3832/ifor2687-011
Published: Sep 25, 2018 - Copyright © 2018 SISEF

Research Articles

Invasive alien tree species can strongly impact biodiversity and future projections predict their spread over natural, semi-natural and human habitats. However, little is known about plant communities that form during the first stages of invasion. We investigated the composition of plant communities in alien Robinia pseudoacacia L. secondary forests growing on grasslands and cultivated areas abandoned during the last 35-40 years in north-eastern Italy to understand whether these formations could cause floristic homogenization of plant communities composition. On the basis of a cluster analysis, plant communities were assigned to seven syntaxonomic categories and split into four groups characterized by the occurrence of 20 species indicative of (a) nitrogen-rich, (b) true forest and (c) open habitat conditions. RDA analysis enabled main stand and environmental variables filtering these communities to be identified and β-diversity components were partitioned through the SDR (Similarity - richness Difference - species Replacement) simplex approach. Plant composition patterns were significantly associated to variability in elevation, stand vertical structure, shrub cover, mean tree diameter and height, and basal area. Shrub cover discriminates between plant communities associated with open or shaded conditions. The partition of β-diversity components revealed that replacement is the prominent process structuring plant communities in these secondary forests. Our study showed that secondary Robinia forests growing on abandoned lands may host compositionally heterogeneous plant communities, thus contributing to regional biodiversity.


Black Locust, Alien Tree Species, Biological Invasion, Species Replacement, Plant Composition

Authors’ address

Thomas Campagnaro
Juri Nascimbene
Giovanni Trentanovi
Tommaso Sitzia
Department of Land, Environment, Agriculture and Forestry, Università degli Studi di Padova, v.le dell’Università 16, 35020 Legnaro, PD (Italy)
Juri Nascimbene
Department of Biological, Geological, and Environmental Sciences, Università di Bologna, v. Irnerio 42, 40126 Bologna (Italy)
Stefano Tasinazzo
v. Gioberti 6, 36100, Vicenza (Italy)

Corresponding author

Tommaso Sitzia


Campagnaro T, Nascimbene J, Tasinazzo S, Trentanovi G, Sitzia T (2018). Exploring patterns, drivers and structure of plant community composition in alien Robinia pseudoacacia secondary woodlands. iForest 11: 586-593. - doi: 10.3832/ifor2687-011

Academic Editor

Matteo Garbarino

Paper history

Received: Nov 15, 2017
Accepted: Jun 26, 2018

First online: Sep 25, 2018
Publication Date: Oct 31, 2018
Publication Time: 3.03 months

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