This article describes the important roles geology and soil conditions play in the ecology and evolution of plant species and their associated biota. We seek to: (1) describe the edaphic factor as a life force responsible for generating and maintaining unique species assemblages and (2) emphasize the importance of conserving habitats with extreme edaphic conditions because of their biological diversity. First, we describe the edaphic factor: its definition and role in shaping the biotic world. Then we review our current knowledge of the ecology of unusual geologies, focusing on studies performed within and across biotic kingdoms. Further, we examine the process of plant evolution on extreme geologies, an area that has generated much interest among evolutionary biologists in the last few decades. Finally, we cover the applied ecology and conservation of plants and other biota restricted to unique geologies.
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