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Diversity, distribution and dispersal of Antarctic terrestrial algae

Terrestrial algae have been studied at widespread Antarctic localities. However, their diversity is not fully known as often collections have not been made from all habitats and techniques have been inadequate for recognition of the total flora. Identifications can be unreliable and are often left at generic level. Despite this it seems that they largely comprise cosmopolitan species but at a reduced diversity relative to other regions. There is a small element of endemic species which, in general, differ only slightly from related species elsewhere. Lack of base-line taxonomic knowledge, detailed characterization of environmental factors, and application of multivariate analysis restricts our ability to define communities and interpret their distribution patterns. Examples are provided where understanding would be greatly improved by more detailed analyses. Dispersal barriers could be operating both to and within Antarctica. However, local dispersal by wind seems readily accomplished. Overcoming dispersal barriers to Antarctica, and between ice-free localities within Antarctica, could present a greater problem. Investigation of long-distance transport of propagules by wind, birds and humans is needed.

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Broady, P.A. Diversity, distribution and dispersal of Antarctic terrestrial algae. Biodivers Conserv 5, 1307–1335 (1996).

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  • algae
  • cyanobacteria
  • terrestrial
  • Antarctica
  • taxonomy
  • endemism
  • distribution
  • dispersal