Vicariance and the evolution of insular floras
Natural History Museum of London
Dr. Mark A. Carine
The Royal Society of London
Jardín Botánico “Viera y Clavijo” - Unidad Asociada al CSIC, Jardín de Aclimatación de La Orotava (ICIA, Tenerife)
In this project, we aim to investigate the role of vicariance in generating disjunct distribution patterns in the endemic flora of the Canary Islands. We focus specifically on Fuerteventura and Lanzarote, the oldest of the seven islands within the archipelago. Whilst currently separated by an 11km seaway (La Bocaina), Lanzarote and Fuerteventura formed a single landmass (Mahan) during periods of lower sea levels and as recently as the last glacial maximum. Geologically, Lanzarote is considered a northern extension of Fuerteventura (Carracedo and Day, 2002) and floristically, the two islands may be considered a single unit (Carine et al., in prep). Both Fuerteventura and Lanzarote are in the post-erosional phase of island evolution and, for the most part, they are intensely eroded and low lying with substantial areas covered by lava flows from recent and sub-recent volcanic activity. In contrast to the other Canary Islands, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura exhibit generally low levels of endemic plant richness overall. However, the Jandía massif, in the south of Fuerteventura, and the Famara massif, in the north of the Lanzarote, are markedly more species and endemic rich than other areas within the islands (Reyes-Betancort et al., 2009).