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The influence of cadmium, copper, lead, and zinc on the distribution and evolution of metallophytes in the British Isles


Mine spoils and other soils contaminated with cadmium, copper, lead and zinc show natural colonization by species which have strategies of avoidance or tolerance of metal toxicities. The distribution of plants on such substrata in the British Isles is examined in the light of present knowledge of such strategies. Evolutionary processes mediating the selection of tolerant individuals and ecotypic differentiation of adapted populations on metalliferous soils are considered. Other factors determining which species can and which cannot evolve tolerance include constitutional differences in species sensitivity to toxic metals, and phenotypic (environmentally-induced) tolerances. The importance of constitutional properties and phenotypic responses in providing explanations for plant distribution on metalliferous soils is assessed.

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Baker, A.J.M., Proctor, J. The influence of cadmium, copper, lead, and zinc on the distribution and evolution of metallophytes in the British Isles. Pl Syst Evol 173, 91–108 (1990).

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Key words

  • Vascular plants
  • Metallophytes
  • tolerance to cadmium
  • copper
  • lead and zinc
  • evolutionary processes
  • selection
  • constitutional tolerance
  • induction
  • phenotypic responses
  • Flora of the British Isles