Geochemistry and ecology

Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological Sciences
P J Peterson


This paper discusses the importance of geochemistry as a determining factor in the evolutionary development of plant assemblages. Three contrasting examples of geochemical systems are described and considered in relation to their effects on plant growth and development. Soils derived from serpentines may contain elevated and sometimes toxic concentrations of Cr and Ni depending on mineral composition and weathering processes. These conditions have so modified plant growth during the past few million years that specialized floras have evolved on particular sites. Extensive areas throughout the world contain high concentrations of Se but these have not always been accompanied by the development of specific floras. Geochemistry can help explain how Se-specific floras have developed in several Western States of America but are absent on Se-rich sites in the Republic of Ireland. Pronounced effects of As toxicity in plants have been recognized in recent years especially from areas polluted by smelter waste and fallout. As-tolerant genotypes have developed during the past 100 years and may still be evolving at the present time.


Jan 1, 1976·Planta·R A SkeffingtonP J Peterson

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Biologic Development
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