Concepts and Methodology
The coastal zone of the Maltese Islands is colonised by a community of halophytic vegetation. Perennial members of this community are capable of tolerating the abiotic stresses associated with the coastal zone (saline soil, exposure to wind, sparse soil) through the use of specialised structures (succulent leaves, low profile, and efficient osmoregulation).
The specialised perennial community is frequently invaded by species less characteristic of this habitat: opportunistic annual generalists. Generalist species would not usually be capable of tolerating the characteristic abiotic stresses on a long-term basis, and therefore utilise a strategy of avoidance in order to survive.
Such plants would only grow in a vegetative state in winter and spring, when climatic conditions are less hostile, and survive as seeds in the seed bank throughout the dry season.