The results of a study on the spatial patterns, composition and structure of coastal salt marsh plantcommunities of a central Mediterranean area are presented. Eleven transects perpendicular to the salt marsh shore wereselected in southeastern Sicily. For each transect, the floristic composition and cover were determined using standardrelevé methods, collecting 220 plots. The plot data were analysed using classification (Unweighted Pair Group Methodwith Arithmetic Mean, similarity ratio) and ordination methods (Detrended Correspondence Analysis). A total of 15plant communities with specific floristic compositions were recognized, mainly distributed in two different habitats: aregularly flooded lower zone and an irregularly flooded upper zone. According to detrended correspondence analysis, thespatial patterns of plots follow an ecological gradient that can be related to flooding time, the main ecological factoraffecting the distribution of communities in the salt marshes. Moreover, floristic richness and diversity index increasedfrom the lower zone towards the upper zone. The regularly flooded soils contain the lowest shrub abundance and thelowest diversity, whereas the irregularly flooded soils have the highest shrub abundance and the highest diversity.
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