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THE NORTH COAST BIODIVERSITY ARENA IN CENTRAL CALIFORNIA: A NEW SCENARIO FOR RESEARCH AND TEACHING PROCESSES OF EVOLUTION

G. Ledyard Stebbins and G. Frederic Hrusa
Madroño
Vol. 42, No. 2, SPECIAL ISSUE: THE FUTURE OF CALIFORNIA FLORISTICS AND SYSTEMATICS: RESEARCH, EDUCATION, CONSERVATION (APRIL-JUNE 1995), pp. 269-294
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/41425075
Page Count: 26
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
THE NORTH COAST BIODIVERSITY ARENA IN CENTRAL CALIFORNIA: A NEW SCENARIO FOR RESEARCH AND TEACHING PROCESSES OF EVOLUTION
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Abstract

The factors responsible for variation in evolutionary rate and pattern among related plant taxa remain in large part obscure. Neutral or selectionist theories alone cannot account for divergent rates of morphological and molecular evolution among related lineages. Interactions among population histories, inherent genetic capacities and environment influence divergence rate. The development of a concise modern evolutionary synthesis, incorporating molecular data and transcending the neo-Darwinian synthesis, is complicated by interaction of these highly complex variables. Control or limitation of these variables is necessary if further evolutionary research is to result in a new synthesis. To this end a biogeographic region is delimited within northcentral coastal California and termed the ' North Coast Biodiversity Arena' (NCBDA). The NCBDA has a relatively well-understood geological and environmental history. It is a region of marked microclimatic and edaphic discontinuities, but not one of extreme environments. In general, the climate displays a gradient of decreasing precipitation west to east with simultaneously decreasing equability. It is restricted by definition to elevations below 500 meters. Without high mountain ranges within its boundaries killing frost is essentially unknown. Its topography is varied and in some areas rain shadows have strong local effects. The NCBDA supports a highly diverse flora including both habitat specialists and broadly adapted species. The diversity of major vegetation types, floristic associations, edaphics, and geologies within the NCBDA is introduced. Evolutionary problems critical to the development of a modern evolutionary synthesis and whose solutions may be accessible within the NCBDA are described.

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