Arctic Hideouts

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Science  25 Aug 2000:
Vol. 289, Issue 5483, pp. 1253
DOI: 10.1126/science.289.5483.1253h

What happened to the flora and fauna of high latitudes during the Pleistocene glaciations? Did they persist in isolated pockets—refugia—where conditions were more benign, and if so, where were these refugia? Abbott et al. (p. 1343) present molecular evidence to indicate where one circumpolar arctic plant—the purple saxifrage—initially occurred in the Arctic, the migration routes it followed to achieve a wide distribution, and the refugia it occupied during Pleistocene glaciations. These results provide strong support for the existence of refugia for arctic-alpine plants in the Arctic itself at the time of the last glacial maximum.

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