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Bryophyte flora of Western Melanesia

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Keywords
  • Ddc:580
Disciplines
  • Earth Science

Abstract

A project dealing with the hepatic and moss floras of New Guinea and the Solomon Islands has proceeded more than halfway. The revision of the flora is based on the study of ca 17000 specimens collected in 1981. Two new genera and ca 50 new species have been described in 33 published papers and seven manuscripts. Many families, genera and species not previously recorded for the area have been added to the flora. More than 300 names have been reduced to synonyms. The percentage of endemic species of liverworts (40 %) is higher than that of mosses (18 %). Most of the endemic species occur at elevations above 1700 m. The geological history of New Guinea suggests that these high altitude endemics may be relatively young, i.e. less than 10 million years old. The moss flora is more closely related to the floras of Indonesia and the Philippines and continental Asia than to that of Australia. This can be explained by plate tectonics. The altitudinal distribution of hepatic and moss floras partly coincides with the zonation of vegetation proposed earlier. Human influence on bryophyte floras is devastating but a part of the flora may survive in gardens and plantations.

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