Plant communities of the dune complex are a result of interaction between tolerance of plant species and sandy substrate, high wind velocities, salt spray, sand accretion and environmental heterogeneity. Propagules of many plant species are dispersed by water currents and deposited on the driftline. Most of these species find ideal conditions for germination but seedling establishment, growth and reproduction is denied to all but a few species with ecological amplitude sufficient to withstand the physical stresses associated with sand accretion, erosion and sandblasting in the highly disturbed environment. The distinct differences between habitats from the water´s edge to the inland grass-forest ecotone leads eventually to the establishment of ecologically distinct communities consisting of both plants and animals. The distinction is caused by sharp differences in the physical environment that may create sharp zones with abrupt or gradual blending of the two community types. In some locations these zones are relatively stable for long periods before any visible change occurs in the community depending on the recession of the shoreline, availability of new bare areas and the advance of communities towards the sea coast. The occurrence of plant communities in zones has been documented along sea coasts worldwide. This chapter examines the plant communities of the sand dune complex along seashores of the world. The following information has been assembled from Doing (1985), Dry coastal ecosystems Vol. 2 A, B, C, edited by Eddy van der Maarel (1993), Doody (1991) and Thannheiser (1984). It presents data on plant communities and ecology of each zone from various parts of the world. The species complement in the ´foredune complex´ in tropical, temperate and other regions around the world may be different, but their response to the prevailing environmental stresses of foredunes is convergent. In different world regions the boundaries between vegetation zones of the sand dune complex may not be defined sharply because of climatic variability, geographic location, physiography of the dune system and other factors peculiar to each location. Usually three to six different plant assemblages have been identified on the dune complex along sea coasts and lakeshores. A brief description of vegetation and ecological traits of species in each zone are presented below.
Keywords: Acacia species, Agrostis stolonifera, Byrsonima sericea, Cakile species, Corema species, Cyperus species, Ipomoea species, Iris repens, algae, cyanobacteria, diatoms, dispersal, dry slacks, dune ridges, dune-forming species, eubacteria, hemicryptophytes, high beach zone, horizontal growth, intertidal zone, lee slopes, pioneer species, plant communities, rhizomatous growth, seed dormancy, slacks, stoloniferous growth, wet slacks
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