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Extra-Mediterranean Refugia, Post-Glacial Vegetation History and Area Dynamics in Eastern Central Europe

Abstract

Evidences from fossil records and genetic research suggest that the arboreal refugia were not restricted to Southern Europe and in particular to the Mediterranean peninsulas during the full-glacials. Fossil pollen data and macrofossil remains indicate that several tree species have survived also at the Southern edge of the cold-dry steppe-tundra area in Central and Eastern Europe. Recent results of surveys on the Late Pleistocene Mammalian fauna clearly contradict to the “tree-less tundra” models for Europe North of the transverse mountain ranges of the Pyrenees, Alps and Carpathians. It was pointed out that the carrying capacity to feed the herds of large herbivores demands a rather productive environment. The presence of Northern temperate refugia is also supported by the “non-analogue” assemblages of small mammals discovered from the Late Pleistocene of unglaci­ated areas of Eastern Central Europe. The assembly of species today typifying the tundra, steppe and semi-desert habitats seems to include also species from deciduous woodland. Extra-Mediterranean core areas were identified also in widely dispersed cold-tolerant frogs and reptiles. Some of their core areas had been at least near the Carpathians and/or marginal areas of the Carpathian Basin. The close faunal connections of the Carpathians suggest the existence of highly dynamic contacts and exchanges with mountains of the Balkan Peninsula during the climatic fluctuations of the Upper Pleistocene. The Eastern and Southern Carpathians, together with the mountains of Western Transylvania, can be considered as core areas of survival and autochtonous evolution in some invertebrate groups with limited mobility. The post-glacial re-population of the Carpathian Basin from different directions has been supported by Illyrian versus Dacian vicarious pairs of sister species/subspecies. In mobile insect groups, peripherically isolated sibling species/subspecies have only been evolved, which display manifold biogeographic connections, e.g. to the Balkan Peninsula, Asia Minor or Southern Russia. The organisation of community-complexes of the Pannonian forest-steppe connected by habitat ecotones resulted in the overlap of several different faunal types, e.g. Mediterranean, Balkanic, Siberian, Ponto-Caspian, Ponto-Pannonian, Turano-Eremic and Xeromontane elements.

Keywords

  • Core Area
  • Last Glacial Maximum
  • Bank Vole
  • Land Snail
  • Balkan Peninsula

These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Acknowledgements

I am deeply indebted to the precursors of modern phylogeographic thoughts: to the late Gustaf de Lattin and Willy Reinig who inseminated the biogeography by genetic insights and shaped my ideas. The Alexander von Humboldt Foundation repeatedly supported my research fellowships in Germany. The survey of the faunal history of Hungary was partly supported by the grant NKFP-3 B/023/2004.

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Varga, Z. (2009). Extra-Mediterranean Refugia, Post-Glacial Vegetation History and Area Dynamics in Eastern Central Europe. In: Habel, J., Assmann, T. (eds) Relict Species. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-92160-8_3

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