Rola, K., Osyczka, P. & Nobis, M. 2014. Cryptogamic communities dominated by the lichen Cladonia rei — a case study of Polish post-smelting dumps in a worldwide context. — Herzogia 27: 121–135.
Pioneer vegetation is frequently characterised by a high proportion of cryptogamic species, both in natural sites and anthropogenic and disturbed habitats. This study focuses on pioneer communities developing in strongly affected and contaminated sites of post-smelting dumps in Poland. Lichens, bryophytes and vascular plants were examined in study plots within homogenous patches of vegetation. Phytosociological data on cryptogamic associations, with the lichen Cladonia rei as the predominant species, from anthropogenic habitats of Germany and sand dunes in Ukraine were used for comparative purposes. Hierarchical cluster analysis and non-metric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) were employed to investigate cryptogamic vegetation differentiation and detrended correspondence analysis (DCA) was used to identify the distribution patterns of the individual cryptogamic species. Phytosociological data from Europe were additionally compared with data from Canada representing the Cladonietum nemoxynae by means of NMDS analysis. The results show that the Cladonietum rei is a widespread and well-defined association characteristic for anthropogenic sites in Europe. The Cladonietum rei can occur in several variants; in strongly heavy metal contaminated post-smelting dumps in Poland, the association is characterised by the frequent occurrence of Diploschistes muscorum and Cladonia conista. It creates compact, homogenous patches over relatively large areas and certainly is not a synusium only, but rather a distinct pioneer community.