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Colonization of the Galápagos Islands by plants with no specific syndromes for long-distance dispersal: A new perspective

AuthorsVargas, Pablo ; Heleno, Rubén H.; Traveset, Anna ; Nogales, Manuel
Issue Date2012
PublisherBlackwell Publishing
CitationEcography 35: 33- 43 (2012)
AbstractSince nobody has witnessed the arrival of early plant colonists on isolated islands, the actual long-distance dispersal (hereafter LDD) has historically been a matter of speculation. In the present study, we offer a new approach that evaluates whether particular syndromes for LDD (i.e. the set of traits related to diaspore dispersal by animals, wind and sea currents) have been favourable in the natural colonization of the Galápagos Islands by plants. Dispersal syndromes of the 251 native genera (509 angiosperm species) presently acknowledged as native were carefully studied, combining data from floristic lists of the Galápagos Islands, diaspore traits, characteristics of continental relatives and our own observations. We used these genera (and occasionally infrageneric groups) as the working units to infer the number of introductions and colonists. A final number of native plants was inferred and analysed after correcting by pollen records of six species from six genera previously considered exotic (palaeobotanical correction). The number of early colonists was also corrected by incorporating information from the few (n= 12) phylogenetic studies of genera from both the Galápagos Islands and the Americas (phylogenetic correction). A total of 372 colonization events were inferred for the native flora using the latest check-list. The proportions of native colonists grouped into five categories were: endozoochory 16.4%, epizoochory 15.7%, hydrochory 18.6%, anemochory 13.3%, and unassisted diaspores 36.0%. These figures did not vary significantly on analysing only the 99 genera that include endemic species in order to rule out any human-mediated introductions. Irrespective of the roles of the different agents involved in LDD, diaspores with no special syndrome for LDD (unassisted diapores), such as many dry fruits, have been successful in reaching and colonizing the Galápagos archipelago. This finding leads us to suggest that unpredictable and so far unknown LDD mechanisms should be further considered in the theory of island biogeography. © 2011 The Authors.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1111/j.1600-0587.2011.06980.x
issn: 0906-7590
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