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The endemic plant families and the palms of New Caledonia: a biogeographical analysis

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This paper provides a panbiogeographical analysis of the endemic plant families and the palms of New Caledonia. There are three endemic plant families in New Caledonia and several genera that were previously recognized as endemic families. Of these taxa, some are sister to widespread Northern Hemisphere or global groups (Canacomyrica, Austrotaxus, Amborella). The others belong to trans-Indian Ocean groups (Strasburgeria), trans-tropical Pacific groups (Oncotheca) or Tasman Sea/Coral Sea groups (Phelline, Paracryphia) that are sister to widespread Northern Hemisphere or global groups. In palms, the four clades show allopatric regional connections in, respectively: (1) western Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand; (2) Vanuatu/Fiji and the southern Ryukyu Islands near Taiwan; (3) the western Tasman/Coral Sea (eastern Australia, New Guinea and the Solomon Islands); and (4) the eastern Tasman/Coral Sea (Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Fiji and the Solomon Islands). The four clades thus belong to different centres of endemism that overlap in New Caledonia. The patterns are attributed not to chance dispersal and adaptive radiation but to the different histories of the eight terranes that fused to produce modern New Caledonia. Trans-tropical Pacific connections can be related to the Cretaceous igneous plateaus that formed in the central Pacific and were carried, with plate movement, west to the Solomon Islands and New Zealand, and east to Colombia and the Caribbean.

Keywords: Ecology; New Caledonia; limestone; panbiogeography; rain forest; tectonics; ultramafic; vicariance

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: July 1, 2010

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