Floristic diversity in the Cape Flora of South Africa

Floristic diversity in the Cape Flora of South Africa Comprising a land area of ca 90000 km2, less than 4% of the total land area for the Southern African subcontinent, the Cape Floristic Province is one of the world's richest areas in terms of botanical diversity for its size. An estimated 8650 species of vascular plants occur in this area, about 65% of which are endemic. This is about 42% of the estimated total for all of southern Africa. The number of species packed into so small an area is remarkable for the temperate zone, and compares closely with species totals for areas of comparable size in the wet tropics. The Cape Region consists of a mosaic of sandstone and shale substrates that give rise to soils of quite different types, and in addition local areas of limestone add to the edaphic diversity. Climates across the region are extremely variable, and the predominant orographic rainfall pattern ranges from 2000mm locally to less than 100mm, often with extremely steep gradients, the result of a mountainous landscape. The edaphic diversity resulting from a mosaic of different soils is compounded by sharp local gradients in precipitation that creates an unusual number of local habitats. A feature of the some of the soils in the Region is low nutrient levels and many of the plants on such soils have low seed dispersal capabilities, a factor important in explaining the high levels of local endemism. Species richness in the Cape Region is hypothesized to have resulted from the presence of a complex mosaic of diverse habitats and steep ecological gradients against a background of relatively stable climate and geology after the mediterranean climate was established there sometime after the beginning of the Pliocene. A local or ecological mode of speciation may have been more important under these conditions than allopatric speciation. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Biodiversity and Conservation Springer Journals

Floristic diversity in the Cape Flora of South Africa

Biodiversity and Conservation, Volume 6 (3) – Oct 15, 2004

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Publisher
Springer Journals
Copyright
Copyright © 1997 by Chapman and Hall
Subject
Life Sciences; Evolutionary Biology; Tree Biology; Plant Sciences
ISSN
0960-3115
eISSN
1572-9710
DOI
10.1023/A:1018360607299
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Comprising a land area of ca 90000 km2, less than 4% of the total land area for the Southern African subcontinent, the Cape Floristic Province is one of the world's richest areas in terms of botanical diversity for its size. An estimated 8650 species of vascular plants occur in this area, about 65% of which are endemic. This is about 42% of the estimated total for all of southern Africa. The number of species packed into so small an area is remarkable for the temperate zone, and compares closely with species totals for areas of comparable size in the wet tropics. The Cape Region consists of a mosaic of sandstone and shale substrates that give rise to soils of quite different types, and in addition local areas of limestone add to the edaphic diversity. Climates across the region are extremely variable, and the predominant orographic rainfall pattern ranges from 2000mm locally to less than 100mm, often with extremely steep gradients, the result of a mountainous landscape. The edaphic diversity resulting from a mosaic of different soils is compounded by sharp local gradients in precipitation that creates an unusual number of local habitats. A feature of the some of the soils in the Region is low nutrient levels and many of the plants on such soils have low seed dispersal capabilities, a factor important in explaining the high levels of local endemism. Species richness in the Cape Region is hypothesized to have resulted from the presence of a complex mosaic of diverse habitats and steep ecological gradients against a background of relatively stable climate and geology after the mediterranean climate was established there sometime after the beginning of the Pliocene. A local or ecological mode of speciation may have been more important under these conditions than allopatric speciation.

Journal

Biodiversity and ConservationSpringer Journals

Published: Oct 15, 2004

References

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