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Functional traits in endemism hotspots and refugia

Refugia are island-like habitats that are linked to long-term environmental stability and, as a result, high endemism. Conservation of refugia and endemism hotspots should be based on a deep ecological and evolutionary understanding of their functioning, which remains limited. Although functional traits can provide such insights, a corresponding, coherent framework is lacking.

Conceptual diagram

Keppel et al. suggest that the eco-evolutionary conditions related to this persistent stability produce a unique suite of functional characteristics that provide important insights about the ecological and evolutionary processes underpinning the development of endemism hotspots and refugia. The authors argue that a systematic comparison of this functional signature among endemism hotspots and refugia, and between these entities and the surrounding landscape, is needed to enhance our understanding of the eco-evolutionary functioning of these priority habitats. Such insights are also vital for more effective conservation.

Written by Alex Assiry

Alex Assiry is an editorial assistant in the Annals of Botany Office. When not working, Alex listens for the opportunity to help.

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