Biodiversity & Conservation

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 359–377 | Cite as

Floristic diversity in the Cape Flora of South Africa

  • Peter Goldblatt
Article

Abstract

Comprising a land area of ca 90000 km2, less than 4% of the total land area for the Southern African subcontinent, the Cape Floristic Province is one of the world's richest areas in terms of botanical diversity for its size. An estimated 8650 species of vascular plants occur in this area, about 65% of which are endemic. This is about 42% of the estimated total for all of southern Africa. The number of species packed into so small an area is remarkable for the temperate zone, and compares closely with species totals for areas of comparable size in the wet tropics. The Cape Region consists of a mosaic of sandstone and shale substrates that give rise to soils of quite different types, and in addition local areas of limestone add to the edaphic diversity. Climates across the region are extremely variable, and the predominant orographic rainfall pattern ranges from 2000mm locally to less than 100mm, often with extremely steep gradients, the result of a mountainous landscape. The edaphic diversity resulting from a mosaic of different soils is compounded by sharp local gradients in precipitation that creates an unusual number of local habitats. A feature of the some of the soils in the Region is low nutrient levels and many of the plants on such soils have low seed dispersal capabilities, a factor important in explaining the high levels of local endemism. Species richness in the Cape Region is hypothesized to have resulted from the presence of a complex mosaic of diverse habitats and steep ecological gradients against a background of relatively stable climate and geology after the mediterranean climate was established there sometime after the beginning of the Pliocene. A local or ecological mode of speciation may have been more important under these conditions than allopatric speciation.

endemism edaphic diversity local speciation climatic stability. 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Arnold, T.H. and de Wet, B.C. (eds) (1993) Plants of Southern Africa. Names and distribution. Mem. Bot. Surv. S. Africa 62. Pretoria: National Botanical Institute.Google Scholar
  2. Axelrod, D.I. and Raven, P.H. (1978) Late Cretaceous and Tertiary vegetation history of Africa. In Biogeography and Ecology of Southern Africa (M.J.A. Werger, ed.) pp. 77–130. The Hague: W. Junk.Google Scholar
  3. Beard, J.S. (ed.) (1970) An Annotated Checklist of the Plants of Western Australia. Perth: Kings Park Board.Google Scholar
  4. Berg, R.Y. (1975) Myrmecochorous plants in Australia and their dispersal by ants. Aust. J. Bot. 23, 475–508.Google Scholar
  5. Bond, W.J. (1983) On alpha diversity and the richness of the Cape flora: a study in southern Cape fynbos. In Mediterranean-Type Ecosystems. The Role of Nutrients (F.J. Kruger, D.T. Mitchell and J.U.M. Jarvis, eds) pp. 225–43. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  6. Bond, P. and Goldblatt, P. (1984) Plants of the Cape Flora: A Descriptive Catalogue. J. S. African Bot. (Suppl.) 13, 1–455.Google Scholar
  7. Bond, W.J. and Slingsby, P. (1983) Seed dispersal by ants in shrublands of the Cape province and its evolutionary implications. S. African J. Sci. 79, 231–3.Google Scholar
  8. Brako, L. and Zarucchi, J.L. (1993) Catalogue of the Flowering Plants and Gynmosperms of Peru. Monogr. Syst. Bot. Missouri Bot. Gard. Syst. 45, 1–1286.Google Scholar
  9. Bremer, B., Olmstead, R.G., Struwe, L. and Sweere, J.A. (1994) rbcL sequences support the exclusion of Retzia, Desfontainia, and Nicodenia from the Gentianales. Pl. Syst. Ecol. 190, 213–30.Google Scholar
  10. Brenan, J.P.M. (1978) Some aspects of the phytogeography of tropical Africa. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 65, 437–78.Google Scholar
  11. Cody, M.L. (1986) Diversity, rarity, and conservation in mediterranean-climate regions. In Conservation Biology (M. Soulé, ed.) pp. 122–52. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates.Google Scholar
  12. Coetzee, J.A. (1978) Late Cainozoic palaeoenvironments of southern Africa. In Antarctic Glacial History and World Palaeoenvironments (E.M. van Zinderen-Bakker, ed.) pp. 115–27. Rotterdam: Balkema.Google Scholar
  13. Coetzee, J.A. (1993) African flora since the terminal Jurassic. In Biological Relationships Between Africa and South America (P. Goldblatt, ed.) pp. 37–61. Newhaven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Coetzee, J.A. and Muller, J. (1985) The phytogeographic significance of some extinct Gondwan pollen types from the Tertiary of the southwestern Cape (South Africa). Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 71, 1088–99.Google Scholar
  15. Coetzee, J.A. and Praglowski, L. (1984) Pollen evidence for the occurrence of Casuarinaceae and Myrica in the Tertiary of South Africa. Grana 23, 23–41.Google Scholar
  16. Coetzee, J.A. and Rogers, J. (1982) Palynological and lithological evidence for the Miocene palaeoenvironment in the Saldanha region (South Africa). Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclim. Palaeoecol. 39, 71–85.Google Scholar
  17. Cowling, R.M. (1990) Diversity components in a species-rich area of the Cape Floristic Region. J. Veg. Sci. 1, 699–710.Google Scholar
  18. Cowling, R.M. and Holmes, P.M. (1992a) Flora and vegetation. In The Ecology of Fynbos (R.M. Cowling, ed.) pp. 23–61. Cape Town: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Cowling, R.M. and Holmes, P.M. (1992b) Endemism and speciation in a lowland flora from the Cape Floristic Region. Biol. J. Linn. Soc. 47, 367–83.Google Scholar
  20. Cowling, R.M., Holmes, P.M. and Rebelo, G. (1992) Plant diversity and endemism. In The Ecology of Fynbos (R.M. Cowling, ed.) pp. 62–112. Cape Town: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  21. D'Arcy, W.D. (1987) Flora of Panama. Checklist and Index. St Louis: Missouri Botanical Garden, St Louis.Google Scholar
  22. Dawson, J.W. (1975) Capsular Myrtaceae 10. Blumea 22, 295–7.Google Scholar
  23. Deacon, H.J. (1979) Palaeoecology. In Fynbos Ecology: a Preliminary Synthesis (J. Day, W.R. Siegfried, G.N. Louw and M.L. Jarman, (eds) pp. 58–166. S. African Nat. Sci. Progr. Rep. 40. Pretoria: CSIR.Google Scholar
  24. Gentry, A.H. (1988a) Tree species richness of upper Amazonian species. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. USA 85, 156–9.Google Scholar
  25. Gentry, A.H. (1988b) Changes in plant community diversity and floristic composition on environmental and geographical gradients. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 75, 1–34.Google Scholar
  26. Gentry, A.H. and Dodson, C. (1987) Diversity and phytogeography of neotropical vascular epiphytes. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 74, 205–33.Google Scholar
  27. Gibbs Russel, G.E. (1985) Analysis of the size and composition of the southern African flora. Bothalia 15, 613–29.Google Scholar
  28. Goldblatt, P. (1978) An analysis of the flora of southern Africa: Its characteristics, relationships, and origins. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 65, 369–436.Google Scholar
  29. Goldblatt, P. (1979) Miscellaneous chromosome counts in angiosperms. II, including new family and generic records. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 66, 856–61.Google Scholar
  30. Goldblatt, P., Dahlgren, R., Nielsen, B.J. and Rourke, J.P. (1979) Further notes of Retziaceae: chemical contents and affinities. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 66, 545–56.Google Scholar
  31. Goldblatt, P. and Manning, J.C. (1996) Phylogeny and speciation in Lapeirousia subgenus Lapeirousia (Iridaceae subfamily lxioideae). Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 83, 346–61.Google Scholar
  32. Good, R. (1974) The Geography of the Flowering Plants, 4th edn. London: Longmans Green.Google Scholar
  33. Groves, R.H., Beard, J.S., Deacon, H.J., Lambrechts, J.J.N., Rabinovitch-Vin, A., Specht, R.L. and Stock, W.D. (1983) Introduction: the origins and characteristics of mediterranean ecosystems. In Mineral Nutrients in Mediterranean Ecosystems (J.A. Day, ed.) pp. 1–17. S. African Nat. Sci. Progr. Rep. 71. Pretoria: CSIR.Google Scholar
  34. Hopper, S.D. (1992) Patterns of plant diversity at the population and species levels in south-west Australian mediterranean ecosystems. In Biodiversity in Mediterranean Ecosystems in Australia (R.J. Hobbs, ed.) pp. 27–46. Chipping Norton: Surrey Beatty & Sons.Google Scholar
  35. Kalin Arroyo, M.T., Cavieres, L., Marticorena, C. and Munoz-Schick, M. (1994) Convergence in the mediterranean floras in Central Chile and California: insights from comparative biology. In Ecological and Biogeography of Mediterranean Ecosystems in Chile, California and Australia (M.T. Kalin Arroyo, P.H. Zedler and M.D. Fox, eds) pp. 43–88. Ecological Studies No 108. New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  36. Klein, R.G. (1977) The ecology of early man in southern Africa. Science 197, 115–26.Google Scholar
  37. Kruger, F.J. and Taylor, H.C. (1979) Plant species diversity in Cape fynbos: gamma and delta diversity. Vegetatio 41, 85–93.Google Scholar
  38. Lamont, B.B., Hopkins, A.J.M. and Knatiuk, R.J. (1984) The flora — composition, diversity and origin. In Kwongan: Plant Life of the Sandplain (J.S. Pate and J.S. Beard, eds) pp. 27–50. Nedlands: University of Western Australia Press.Google Scholar
  39. Levin, D.A. (1993) Local speciation in plants: the rule not the exception. Syst. Bot. 18, 197–208.Google Scholar
  40. Linder, H.P. (1985) Gene flow, speciation and species diversity patterns in a species-rich area: the Cape Flora. In Species and Speciation (E.S. Vrba, ed.) pp. 53–7. Transvaal Mus. Monogr. 4. Pretoria: Transvaal Museum.Google Scholar
  41. Linder, H.P. and Vlok, J.H.J. (1991) The morphology, taxonomy and evolution of Rhodocoma (Restionaceae). Pl. Syst. Evol. 175, 139–60.Google Scholar
  42. Meadows, M.E. and Sugden, J.M. (1991) A vegetation history of the last 14 000 years on the Cedarberg, south-western Cape Province. S. African J. Sci. 87, 34–43.Google Scholar
  43. Pennington, T.D. and Styles, B.T. (1975) A generic monograph of the Meliaceae. Blumea 22, 419–540.Google Scholar
  44. Raven, P.H. and Axelrod, D.I. (1978) Origin and relationships of the California flora. Univ. California Publ. Bot. 72.Google Scholar
  45. Schatz, G.E., Lowry, P.P., Lescot, M., Wolf, A.E., Andriambololonera, S., Randrinasolo, V. and Raharimampionona, J. (1996) Conspectus of the vascular plants of Madagascar: a taxonomic and conservation electronic data base. In The Biodiversity of African Plants (L.J.G. van der Maesen et al., eds.). Proceeding of the XIV AETFAT Congress, Wageningen, The Netherlands. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publications.Google Scholar
  46. Scholz, A. (1985) The palynology of the upper lacustrine sediments of the Arnot pipe, Banke, Namaqualand. Ann. S. African Mus. 95, 1–109.Google Scholar
  47. Tilman, D. (1982) Resource Competition and Community Structure. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  48. Tilman, D. (1983) Some thoughts on resource competition and diversity in plant communities. In Mediterranean-Type Ecosystems. The Role of Nutrients (F.J. Kruger, D.T. Mitchell and J.U.M. Jarvis, eds) pp. 322–36. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  49. Tilman, D., Bond, W.J., Campbell, B.M., Kruger, F.J., Linder, H.P., Scholz, A., Taylor, H.C. and Witter, M. (1983) Origin and maintenance of plant species diversity. In Mineral Nutrients in Mediterranean Ecosystems (J.A. Day, ed.) pp. 125–35. S. African Nat. Sci. Progr. Rep. 71. Pretoria: CSIR.Google Scholar
  50. Villagrán, C.M. (1983) Quaternary history of the mediterranean vegetation of Chile. In Ecological and Biogeography of Mediterranean Ecosystems in Chile, California and Australia (M.T. Kalin Arroyo, P.H. Zedler and M.D. Fox, eds) pp. 3–20. Ecological Studies No 108. New York: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
  51. Wagner, W.L. (1991) Evolution of waif floras: a comparison of the Hawaiian and Marquesan Archipelagoes. In The Unity of Evolutionary Biology (E.C. Dudley, ed.) pp. 267–84. vol. 1. Portland, Oregon: Dioscorides Press.Google Scholar
  52. Wagner, W.L., Herbst, D.R., and Sohmer, S.H. (1990) Manual of the Flowering Plants of Hawai'i. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press.Google Scholar
  53. Weimarck, H. (1941) Phytogeographical groups, centres and intervals within the Cape flora. Lunds Univ. Arsskr. N. F. Avd. 2, 37(5), 1–143.Google Scholar
  54. Xiang, Q.-Y, Soltis, D.E., Morgan, D.R. and Soltis, P.S. (1993) Phylogenetic relationships of Cornus L. sensulato and putative relatives inferred from rbcL sequence data. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 80, 723–34.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Chapman and Hall 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Goldblatt
    • 1
  1. 1.Missouri Botanical GardenSt LouisUSA

Personalised recommendations