, Volume 293, Issue 1-2, pp 1-2
Date: 27 Apr 2007

Advances in the ecology of serpentine soils

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A selection of papers from the Fifth International Conference on Serpentine Ecology, held in Siena 9–13 May 2006.

Ultramafic rocks (typically known as ‘serpentines’ in the botanical and ecological literature), and the soils derived from them, are widely distributed throughout the globe across all climatic zones. They produce specialised habitats with extreme edaphic conditions and frequently host unique plant communities and ‘islands’ of biodiversity with many restricted and endemic taxa, the most famous of which are the nickel hyperaccumulator plants. Because of these characteristics, serpentines continue to attract the interests of plant ecologists, evolutionaty biologists and environmental physiologists.

In 1991, scientists studying ultramafic sites first gathered together on an international scale to share their research findings at a conference at the University of California, Davis, USA. The success of that first conference, along with its attendant field trip to local ultramafic s ...