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We propose a definition of the term ‚extreme site’ basing on the biological stress concept: extreme sites are environments in which one or more factors are over- or underrepresented in a manner that the organisms can live there only if they possess special adaptations.
Extreme sites may exhibit a very high diversity of species and adaptations despite their unfavourable growth conditions. A good example can be found in Amazonian floodplains where the world’s highest diversity of flood tolerant trees occurs despite uninterrupted flood durations of eight months with high amplitudes. Since there is a very regular flooding periodicity, a large variety of adaptations could evolve. On these extreme sites, species and functional diversity therefore can be manifold.
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