Mediterranean Type Ecosystems

Volume 7 of the series Ecological Studies pp 213-224

The Evolution of Mediterranean Floras

  • Peter H. Raven

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In five widely separated regions of the world, lying for the most part between 30° and 40° N and S of the Equator, are areas of similar climate. These regions closely resemble the lands bordering the Mediterranean Sea not only in climate, but also in the gross aspect of their vegetation; hence, both climate and vegetation are said to be “mediterranean”. When European explorers first reached the Cape region of South Africa, central Chile, California, and southwestern and southern Australia, they were surprised to find landscapes that reminded them of those they knew in Spain, southern France and Italy. They were also delighted to find that the grapes, olives, and citrus that they brought with them flourished in these distant lands. Later, they began to wonder just how closely the floras and faunas of these regions really resembled one another, and whether they had ever been connected by areas of climate so similar that plants and animals could have moved directly from one to another.