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Climatic Relict

  • By: Maria Caffrey
  • In: Encyclopedia of Geography
  • Edited by: Barney Warf
  • Subject:General Geography, Earth & Environmental Science

Sometimes referred to as glacial relicts, climatic relicts are taxa that were more widely distributed in the past when climatic conditions were more conducive to a greater range. During times of optimum climatic conditions, taxa may expand their ranges into new regions. As global climates have changed, climatic relict taxa have adapted by reducing their ranges to smaller refugia, where residual communities remain isolated (or disjunct) from their ancestral community.

Taxa can be relict due to shifts in entire climate zones or due to changes in single climatic variables, such as temperature or precipitation. In particular, a number of climatic relict taxa remain due to climate shifts during the early Holocene, when conditions began to warm following the cooler glacial-interglacial conditions of the Pleistocene. While ...

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