Aim To define the bioclimatic tolerance ranges of the two Tabor oak subspecies. Prior to this definition, and considering the confusion in the literature regarding the Tabor oak subspecies geography, a reassessment of their present distribution is proposed.
Location Turkey and the Levant.
Methods The bioclimatic tolerance range of each subspecies was characterized by four parameters: (1) the humidity category (Q2), (2) the winter variant (m) – the two basic variables used in Emberger's method for the definition of Mediterranean bioclimates, (3) the length of the dry season (LDS) and (4) its severity, expressed by the dry season water deficit (DSWD). The reference to the last two variables in the definition of bioclimatic tolerance ranges of Mediterranean species has so far never been considered. The concept of bioclimatic niche, based on the reference to these four parameters, is proposed and discussed.
Results The reassessment of the Tabor oak subspecies distribution shows that their extents of occurrence do not overlap and are significantly distant. The comparison between the characteristics of each subspecies bioclimatic niche has highlighted three major differences: (1) The bioclimatic niche of the subspecies macrolepis is characterized by a great heterogeneity as it includes up to 10 distinct bioclimate types, whereas only four types have been found in the bioclimatic niche of the subspecies ithaburensis. (2) A 10 °C gap has been found between the winter variants of both bioclimatic niches. (3) The third major difference relates to the dry season characteristics: the bioclimatic niche of the subspecies ithaburensis is characterized by an LDS 40–75% longer than it is in the bioclimatic niche of the subspecies macrolepis. Moreover, and surprisingly, although the most arid humidity categories are found in the bioclimatic niche of the subspecies macrolepis, the bioclimatic niche of the subspecies ithaburensis is characterized by a significantly more severe dry season as the DSWD is 36–180% greater than in the bioclimatic niche of the subspecies macrolepis. It is suggested that the duration and the severity of the dry season is a major limiting factor in the spatial distribution of the subspecies macrolepis.
Main conclusions The reference to the duration (LDS) and severity (DSWS) of the dry season is essential when defining the bioclimatic niche of Mediterranean species.