Coastal salt-marshes in Albania

1Julian Shehu, 1Alma Imeri, 1Rudina Koci, 2Alfred Mullaj,

1Agricultural university of Tirana, Department of Plant Production,

2Faculty of Natural Sciences, Department of Biology

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The salt marshes of Albania comprise a narrow belt along the Adriatic and Ionian Seas. They have been the subject of a range of human activities causing habitat loss. Enclosure for agricultural use, ports and other infrastructure has reduced many salt marshes to a narrow fringe along estuary shores. Salt marshes are important for a range of interests. In particular they support a range of specialist plant communities and associated animals (especially breeding and wintering birds) and often have a high nature conservation interest. They rarely exist in isolation and form an integral part of many estuaries, other tidal inlets and bays. The objectives of this study are flora and vegetation of salt marshes. In this study, on the basis of field surveys, is given a phytosociological classification of the Albanian salt marshes vegetation by the European standard methods of phytosociology (Zurich-Montpellier). The salt marsh communities of Albania are poor in endemism and generally similar to relevant vegetation types elsewhere in the Mediterranean. The flora of coastal salt marshes is differentiated into levels according to the plants’ individual tolerance of salinity and water table levels. The flora of coastal salt marshes is differentiated into levels according to the plants’ individual tolerance of salinity and water table levels. Coastal salt marshes of Albania are offered a number of 62 taxa, extended in 16 diverse families. The most presented families are Chenopodiaceae 24 %, followed by Poaceae and Asteraceae with 11%. Salt marshes are populated by halophytes, plants that can live under saline conditions. Plant species diversity is low, since the flora must be tolerant of salt and anoxic mud substrate [4]. The most common salt marsh plant communities in coastal area of Albania are salt meadows dominated by glasswort (Salicornia europaea), pioneer marsh communities, perennial vegetation of marine saline mud’s mainly composed of scrub such as Sarcocornia fruticosa, Sarcocornia perennis and belonging to the Sarcocornetea fruticosi class, tall rush salt marshes dominated by Juncus maritimus or J. acutus (Juncetalia maritimi)halo-psammophile meadows mainly dominated by Plantago crassifolia, Saccharum ravennae, Scirpus holoschoenus (Plantaginion crassifoliae), [4, 5]. The plant communities’composition of salt marshes area is rather variable depending on the nature of the soil. The development from constantly submerged areas and ending in areas that are always above water level is marked by the increasing diversity which follows the arrival of a range of new species [7]. Coastal salt marshes rank among the systems with the highest productivity of any in the world. High productivity of salt marshes is just one reason we are protecting and restoring these valuable “liquid assets.”

Key words: plant salt marshes, flora and vegetation, Zosteretea Marinae, Arthrocnemetea; Juncetea maritimi; coastal vegetation; halophytes; phytosociological analysis.

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