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The Austral floristic realm revisited

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The classification of the Earth’s flora into floristic regions has been the major goal of plant geography since the 19th century. A detailed revision of 19th and 20th century classifications is presented herein, with particular emphasis on the delimitation of the Austral floristic realm. A comparison between Chile, New Zealand, and the Cape Floristic Region is made at the genus level. Using the vascular flora of these biogeographical regions, the analysis revises previous attempts to define the Austral realm, while also assessing differences made by changes in taxonomic delimitations from recent molecular phylogenetic studies. The results indicate that the Austral floristic realm can nowadays be better described as a circum-Antarctic generalized track, composed of some 60 genera and 15 families restricted to South America and Australasia, possibly including South Africa.

Keywords: Antarctica; Australasia; Cape Floristic Region; Chile; New Zealand; South Pacific track; biogeographical classification; floristic kingdom; panbiogeography; southern South America

Document Type: Guest Editorial


Publication date: October 1, 2007

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