The Vegetation Prodrome of Italy was promoted in 2012 by the Italian “Ministry of Environment, Land and Sea Protection”, in collaboration with the “Italian Society of Botany”, to provide a comprehensive and systematic catalogue and description of Italian plant communities. The Prodrome that is presented in this paper is the first full organic synthesis of the vegetation of Italy at the alliance syntaxonomic level. It fulfils several needs, the main one being a unified and comprehensive national framework that may make an important contribution to the definition of the European Vegetation Prodrome. Syntaxonomy, as well as taxonomy, is sometimes based on considerations that may in part diverge: several authors tend to favour models that are divisive or aggregative to a greater or lesser extent in terms of flora, biogeography and ecology. These different points of view stimulate the scientific debate and allow the adoption of a framework that is more widely supported. The Prodrome includes 75 classes, 2 subclasses, 175 orders, 6 suborders and 393 alliances. The classes were grouped into nine broad categories according to structural, physiognomic and synecological elements rather than to syntaxonomic criteria. The rank, full valid name, any synonymies and incorrect names are provided for each syntaxon. The short declaration highlights the physiognomy, synecology, syndynamics and distribution of the plant communities that belong to the syntaxon. The Prodrome of the Italian Vegetation is linked to the European Strategy for Biodiversity, the European Habitats Directive and the European Working Groups related to the ecosystems and their services. In addition to basic applications, the Prodrome can be used as a framework for scientific research related to the investigation of the relationships between plant communities and the environmental factors that influence their composition and distribution
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