GeoJournal

, Volume 28, Issue 2, pp 201–211 | Cite as

Ecological aspects of plant colonisation of the Krakatau Islands

  • Whittaker R. J. 
  • Bush M. B. 
  • Partomihardjo T. 
  • Asquith N. M. 
  • Richards K. 
Article

Abstract

Species assemblage data from the Krakatau Islands, Indonesia, are presented for the period 1883 to 1989 (including previously unpublished data from the 1989 survey). Since 1934, 16 additional families of higher plants have colonised. Recent arrivals at the family level are mostly of zoochorous species of forest tree, indicating (subject to the effects of disturbance) a continuing increase in potential niche space within the island interiors. The data for Rakata (an uninterrupted prisere) conform to a successional explanation in which identifiable ecological groups of plants exhibit differing colonization and turnover patterns. Animal-dispersed canopy tree species and species which are widespread within the group, exhibit a very low probability of extinction once they have colonized successfully. There are, however, several constraints on the rapid spread of species within the group, in particular those connected to local dispersal (eg lack of large terrestrial mammals). In respect of dispersal to the group, partial survey data for the island of Sebesi from 1921 (revised) and 1989 provides the basis for comment as to the changing biogeographical circumstances of the Sunda Straits and the role of Sebesi as a ‘stepping stone’ island.

The varied data discussed in the paper indicates that with the exception of the strand-line, no component of the Krakatau flora or vegetation has yet approached a stable composition. Both floral and faunal diversification are argued to be proximally controlled not only by dispersal opportunities but also by the dynamics of the dominant life-forms of the system, ie, the forest trees. Such hierarchical links, across trophic boundaries, should receive greater recognition in the construction of island biogeographical theory.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Whittaker R. J. 
    • 1
  • Bush M. B. 
    • 2
  • Partomihardjo T. 
    • 3
  • Asquith N. M. 
    • 4
  • Richards K. 
    • 5
  1. 1.School of GeographyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Dept. of BotanyDuke UniversityDurhamUSA
  3. 3.Herbarium BogorienseBogorIndonesia
  4. 4.School of GeographyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  5. 5.P.T. Robertson Research (Utama Indonesia)JakartaIndonesia

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