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Open Access Research article

Richness of Colchic vegetation: comparison between refugia of south-western and East Asia

Zaal Kikvidze1* and Masahiko Ohsawa2

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Botany of the Georgian Academy of Sciences, Kojori Road 1, Tbilisi 380007, Republic of Georgia

2 Laboratory of Biosphere Functions, Institute of Environmental Studies, Graduate School of Frontier Sciences, The University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan

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BMC Ecology 2001, 1:6  doi:10.1186/1472-6785-1-6

Published: 20 December 2001

Abstract

Background

The Colchis is one of the species-rich refugia and a centre of biological diversity in western Eurasia. We analysed patterns of richness, endemism and invasions in relation to taxonomy (family membership), life form, certain habitats in the Colchis, and compared them to patterns found for Japan.

Results

We found that in the Colchis perennials are significantly over-represented in endemic species, and that they typically occur on limestone soils and in alpine tall herbaceous vegetation. The Asteraceae produce significantly large number of both endemic and alien species, whereas the Poaceae are over-represented in alien species but under-represented in endemics. Likewise, the Apiaceae are over-represented in endemics, whereas the Euphorbiaceae are over-represented in alien species. Similar patterns have been found in Yakushima, Japan. The Morisita-Horn index of similarity between these two sites was 0.83 (based on family size). Although the flora of Adjara comprised of fewer families than the flora of Yakushima, the largest families are richer in species in the flora of Adjara than in the flora of Yakushima.

Conclusions

Floristic analysis of refugia of western Eurasia and their comparison with geographically distant areas can provide useful data for plant ecological and evolutionary studies. Potentially, such studies can produce testable hypotheses on plant migrations and on their historical geography. For example, the data presented in this study indicate that more severe conditions in the Pleistocene and geographical isolation of the Colchis may be responsible for the higher relative importance of adaptive radiation in the shaping of its modern flora.