Global biogeography of scaly tree ferns (Cyatheaceae): evidence for Gondwanan vicariance and limited transoceanic dispersal

Publication Type:Journal Article
Year of Publication:2014
Authors:P. Korall, Pryer K. M.
Journal:Journal of Biogeography
Start Page:402
Type of Article:Botany
Keywords:fern distribution, Fern phylogeny
Full Text

This study attempts to explain the present biogeography of Cyatheaceae, establishing a correlation between the global distribution of Cyatheaceae and the geological break up of ‘Gondwanan’ (the early conjoining of South America and Australasia), together with some limited transoceanic dispersal events. This breaking apart of the continents is known as ‘Vicariance’. These evolutionary events are relevant to the genus Cyathea, it being, for all intents and purposes the sole genus of the family Cyatheaceae.
Cyatheaceae is believed to have originated 96 mya, in the mid-Cretaceous, in either Australasia or South America. The crown group of the ‘marginate-scaled’ clade came about approximately 83 mya in the late Cretaceous. Later, around 56 mya, at the Palaeocene-Eocene boundary, Cyathea originated.
The vicariance scenario alluded to previously, whereby a basal split occurred in Cyathea, is thought to have occurred between 82 and 54 mya, in the late Cretaceous-Palaeocene. The combination of the continental split and the subsequent ‘range expansion’ effects of spore dispersal, resulted in the present biogeography of the scaly tree ferns. These results are in strong agreement with previous workers (Korall et al, 2007).

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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith