Question: Coastal dune systems are characterized by a natural mosaic that promotes species diversity. This heterogeneity often represents a severe problem for traditional mapping or ground survey techniques. The work presented here proposes to apply a very detailed CORINE land cover map as baseline information for plant community sampling and analysis in a coastal dune landscape.
Location: Molise coast, Central Italy.
Method: We analysed through an error matrix the coherence between land cover classes and vegetation types identified through a field survey. The CORINE land cover map (scale 1 : 5000) of the Molise coast was used with the CORINE legend expanded to a fourth level of detail for natural and semi-natural areas. Vegetation data were collected following a random stratified sampling design using the CORINE land cover classes as strata. An error matrix was used to compare, on a category-by-category basis, the relationship between vegetation types (obtained by cluster analyses of sampling plots) and land cover classes of the same area.
Results: The coincidence between both classification approaches is quite good. Only one land cover class shows a very weak agreement with its corresponding vegetation type; this result was interpreted as being related to human disturbance.
Conclusions: Since it is based on a standard land cover classification, the proposal has a potential for application to most European coastal systems. This method could represent a first step in the environmental planning of coastal systems.
Nomenclature: Pignatti (1982).
Abbreviation: CORINE = Co-ordination on Information of the Environment.