Exploring fluoride impacts on species’ survival strategies and predicting later pollution effects on community structure is a key question in ecological studies. To address this issue, a field study was conducted during two seasons on fluoride-contaminated soil in southern Tunisia. Gabes was the most polluted site, with almost 1600 ppm. Smara was the reference site, with almost 56 ppm. F accumulations were above the usual background concentrations. Fluorine (F) concentrations in the plant aerial part of Atractilys serratuloides, an arid gypsum-tolerant plant species that is abundant in the surroundings of superphosphate factories in Tunisia, reached around 300 ppm in Gabes. Simultaneously, plant seasonal development (life cycle) monitoring was also carried out to assess the shoot vegetative growth and phenological stages of Atractilys serratuloides under fluoride pollution. Earlier reproduction events (flowering and fructification) were detected at the expense of reduced shoot vegetative growth of this species in both polluted sites, especially in the summer season. This strategy may enhance A. serratuloides’ earlier achievement of its reproduction stage and thus fosters its chance of colonizing the F-enriched soils in the factories’ surroundings.
*Original full-text article online at: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0254629922005750