The Ultramafic Flora of Sabah
With over 3500 km2 of ultramafic rock outcrops in Sabah (4.6% of the total landmass of the state), Malaysia has one of the largest surface expressions of ultramafic rock, and one of the most species-rich floras occupying these outcrops, in the world. Ultramafic rock occupies < 1% of the land surface of the earth and these outcrops are renowned as centres of high plant diversity supporting high levels of plant endemism. Over 1500 plant species have been documented on ultramafic outcrops around Mount Kinabalu, of which a large percentage is endemic to either Mount Kinabalu or Borneo. Sabah is thus recognized as a major locus of floral diversity on ultramafic outcrops, but the full plant diversity and ecology remains largely unknown due to a lack of focused research. Biodiversity in many areas of Sabah is severely threatened by land use conversion and, because many plant species only occur in a single or a few ultramafic sites, impacts on the ecosystems that support them could result in their extinction.
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