Buffered Tree Population Changes in a Quaternary Refugium: Evolutionary Implications

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Science  20 Sep 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5589, pp. 2044-2047
DOI: 10.1126/science.1073083

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A high-resolution pollen record from western Greece shows that the amplitude of millennial-scale oscillations in tree abundance during the last glacial period was subdued, with temperate tree populations surviving throughout the interval. This provides evidence for the existence of an area of relative ecological stability, reflecting the influence of continued moisture availability and varied topography. Long-term buffering of populations from climatic extremes, together with genetic isolation at such refugial sites, may have allowed lineage divergence to proceed through the Quaternary. Such ecologically stable areas may be critical not only for the long-term survival of species, but also for the emergence of new ones.

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