Fine-scale topographic complexity creates important microclimates that can facilitate
species to grow outside their main distributional range and increase biodiversity
locally. Enclosed depressions in karst landscapes (‘dolines’) are topographically
complex environments which produce microclimates that are drier and warmer (equator-facing
slopes) and cooler and moister (pole-facing slopes and depression bottoms) than the
surrounding climate. We show that the distribution patterns of functional groups for
organisms in two different phyla, Arthropoda (ants) and Tracheophyta (vascular plants),
mirror this variation of microclimate. We found that north-facing slopes and bottoms
of solution dolines in northern Hungary provided key habitats for ant and plant species
associated with cooler and/or moister conditions. Contrarily, south-facing slopes
of dolines provided key habitats for species associated with warmer and/or drier conditions.
Species occurring on the surrounding plateau were associated with intermediate conditions.
We conclude that karst dolines provide a diversity of microclimatic habitats that
may facilitate the persistence of taxa with diverse environmental preferences, indicating
these dolines to be potential safe havens for multiple phyla under local and global