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Keywords:

  • Macaronesian-Mediterranean floral region;
  • Colchis;
  • ecological adaptation;
  • zonality;
  • herpetofauna

Small-scale vegetational patterns of Georgian lowland and montane forests and wetlands are documented by species per vegetation unit, function of species in particular vegetation units and vegetational sketches. The humid warm-temperate climate of western Georgia contributes to a different spatial pattern than known for most of Europe. One characteristic feature of western Georgian relict vegetation is the co-occurrence of ‘Mediterranean’, ‘Sub-mediterranean’, temperate, and Tertiary relict species, as well as of species normally confined to either zonal or azonal vegetation, in the same or closely related vegetation units. The extant distribution of Tertiary relict taxa strongly depends on how they are niching into changing environments. Niching strategies are assumed crucial for extinction or survival in times of rapid climatic/environmental changes. For Tertiary relict plant taxa in western Georgia we found four different niching strategies which also hold true of other northern hemispheric Tertiary relict plant taxa. Some amphibians and reptiles display similar distribution patterns and niching strategies as do relict plant taxa. A number of relict taxa in the warm humid regions of western Georgia occupy niches in swamp forests which might represent ‘primeval’ environments of species which are at present also elements of meso-Mediterranean vegetation and of thermophilous forest edges and hedges in Central Europe.