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The Significance of Historical Factors and Ecological Preference in the Distribution of African Pteridophytes

Jan Kornas
Journal of Biogeography
Vol. 20, No. 3 (May, 1993), pp. 281-286
Published by: Wiley
DOI: 10.2307/2845636
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2845636
Page Count: 6
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The Significance of Historical Factors and Ecological Preference in the Distribution of African Pteridophytes
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Abstract

The pteridophyte flora of tropical Africa has similar biogeographic features to the phanerogam flora of that continent. It is depauperate in comparison with South America and Southeast Asia. The following historical factors are responsible for such a situation: shifting of climatic zones due to the continental drift during the Tertiary and climatic oscillations during the Quaternary, with limited chances for survival in the rain forest refugia. Numerous disjunct taxa and series of vicarious taxa of pantropical, American-African and African-Asian distributions indicate the common origin of the pteridophyte floras of all three continents. Intracontinental distribution patterns in Africa are characterized by the rain forest elements concentrated in the humid equatorial zone and the xerophilous elements radiating from the southern part of the continent along its eastern border. Local endemics are scarce among the African pteridophytes. They are grouped in a few centres located in areas of high environmental diversity. Ecological aspects of pteridophyte distribution are briefly explained using the example of seasonally dry areas in Zambia and southern Zaire.

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