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Karstic microrefugia protect cool-adapted plants

Dolines, small to large-sized bowl-shaped depressions of karst surfaces, may constitute important microrefugia for many vascular plants, as thermal inversion maintains cooler conditions within them. Bátori et al. study the effects of macroclimate, vegetation type and slope aspect on cool-adapted plants from a karst doline of the Bihor Mountains, Romania.

Location of the study sites in Hungary and Romania.
(A) Location of the study sites in Hungary and Romania. 1, Mecsek Mountains; 2, Aggtelek Karst area; 3, Bükk Mountains; 4, Bihor Mountains. (B) A non-forested doline with Norway spruce (Picea abies) individuals in Bihor. (C–F) Some cool-adapted plants in the investigated dolines. (C) Alpine woundwort (Stachys alpina), Mecsek. (D) Carline thistle (Carlina acaulis), Aggtelek. (E) Wolfsbane (Aconitum variegatum s.l.), Bükk; (F) Orange hawkweed (Pilosella aurantiaca ssp. aurantiaca), Bihor.

At the warmest sinkhole site, distribution of cool-adapted plants was restricted to the deepest parts of the dolines. Within sinkhole sites of intermediate temperature and humidity, the effect of vegetation type and aspect was often significant, with more cool-adapted plants being found in grasslands and on north-facing slopes. Karst dolines can have an important role in facilitating the protection and persistence of cool-adapted plants.

Endemism Hotspots Cover

This article is part of the AoB Special Issue on Endemism Hotspots as Climate Change Refugia, which is free access for a couple of months, then behind the paywall for a while before being free access after February 2017.

Written by Annals of Botany Office

The Annals of Botany Office is based at the University of Oxford.

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