Distribution of the endemic Balkan flora on serpentine I. – obligate serpentine endemics


Serpentine (ophiolithic) substrate covers large areas in the Balkans, more so than in any other part of Europe. These areas extend from north to south mainly in the mountainous central regions and represent specialized habitats for basiphilous-calcifugal plants. Biodiversity in the area is high, with a great number of interesting local and regional endemics. The high number of endemics indicates the importance of serpentine habitats as centres for floristic differentiation and speciation. The number of Balkan endemics growing on serpentine is c. 335 taxa (species and subspecies) of which 123 are obligate. Their distribution is presented in 50 × 50 km UTM squares as adopted in the Atlas Florae Europaeae project coordinated at Helsinki. The richest (in number of taxa) squares are situated in NW Greece (Epirus), the island of Evvia, N Albania together with SW Serbia, and N Greece (Vourinos). They indicate important centres of plant diversity in the Balkans, areas to be noted for conservation strategy. Features responsible for the distribution and abundance of these obligate serpentine endemics include: 1) edaphic isolation in relation to type of bedrock (lime, dolomite, marble, schist, etc.), 2) mountain island isolation (Smolikas, Vourinos, Ostrovica, etc.), 3) island isolation (Evvia) and 4) continuous long-term isolation without interruption or disturbance of speciation.

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Correspondence to Kit Tan.

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Stevanović, V., Tan, K. & Iatrou, G. Distribution of the endemic Balkan flora on serpentine I. – obligate serpentine endemics. Plant Syst. Evol. 242, 149–170 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00606-003-0044-8

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Key words:

  • Flora
  • endemism
  • distribution
  • ser-pentine
  • Balkan Peninsula