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The evolutionary effects of metalliferous and other anomalous soils in south central africa



The evolutionary effects of metalliferous and other anomalous soils in south central africa



Evolution 31(2): 282-293



The extensive metalliferous and other anomalous soils of South Central Africa were in existence since before the origin of the angiosperms. Consequently they should have provided situations in which evolution could have continued uninterrupted, except by major climatic changes, over very long periods, and in which it can be observed continuing at the present day. The floras on these areas were therefore examined, and compared to the situation in Northern Europe. The african anomalous floras could be expected to show: a larger number of species which occupy the anomalous soils; a greater distinctiveness of the populations tolerating the anomalous soils; a greater number of tolerant populations which have attained the status of distinct endemic species but which have close relatives; and a greater number of tolerant endemic species which have lost their close relatives. The greater number of endemics is a definite characteristic of the floras. Despite their great stability, the anomalous areas are not occupied by a flora consisting mostly of endemic species. It is clear that many of the plant populations on the areas must be of recent origin. This suggests that there was sufficient climatic and other changes to eliminate many of the original colonists and allow the immigration of others. The endemics are only to be found on those anomalous soils which occur in large areas. This is hardly in agreement with current ideas on parapatric speciation, but perhaps can be explained by the fact that only large areas will offer a sufficient variety of habitats for the endemic species, once evolved, to survive during periods of climatic change.

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Accession: 006674222

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DOI: 10.2307/2407749


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