J Syst Evol ›› 2016, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (6): 691-705.DOI: 10.1111/jse.12232

• Reviews • Previous Articles    

Exploring the pteridophyte flora of the Eastern Afromontane biodiversity hotspot

Hong‐Mei Liu1,2, Shou‐Zhou Zhang1,2, Tao Wan1,2, Peris W. Kamau3, Zheng‐Wei Wang4, Aurelie Grall5, Andreas Hemp6, and Harald Schneider7,8*   

  1. 1Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Southern Subtropical Plant Diversity, Fairylake Botanical Garden, Shenzhen and Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shenzhen 518004, China
    2Sino-Africa Joint Research Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan 430074, China
    3National Museum of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya
    4Shanghai Chenshan Botanical Garden, Shanghai Chenshan Plant Science Research Center, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai 201602, China
    5Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, TW8 3DS, UK
    6Department of Plant Systematics, University of Bayreuth, Germany
    7School of Life Sciences, Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou 510265, China
    8Department of Life Sciences, Natural History Museum, London SW7 5BD, UK
  • Received:2016-10-16 Published:2016-12-15

Abstract: In this review, we explore our current understanding of the fern and lycophyte diversity occurring in the Eastern Afromontane Biodiversity Hotspot (EABH). The review explores the species diversity of this region in the context of the Afromadagascan pteridophyte diversity based on an exhaustive species list assembled in the synopsis of Afromadagascan pteridophytes published by Roux in 2009. The list was updated by incorporating recent progress in our understanding of the taxonomy and phylogeny of these plants. Evidence for a distinct pteridophyte flora occurring in the East African mountain region was discovered using ordination and clustering analyses. This EABH floras shares links to other Afromadagascan pteridophyte floras such as the one in the tropical lowland forests of central and western Africa. These floras share the dominance of species that preferably occur in humid climates whereas other African pteridophyte floras tend to contain a higher proportion of xeric adapted ferns. The phylogenetic composition of the EABH pteridophyte flora was assessed by comparing global versus local proportion of orders, families, and genera. This analysis revealed distinct patterns that are partly caused by the radiation of Blotiella and Triplophyllum besides selective colonization of species pre-adapted to Afromadagascan climates. In situ speciation in the East African tropical mountains may have contributed to the global diversity of widespread genera such as Asplenium and Pteris. In summary, this is the first comprehensive attempt to assess the pteridophyte diversity of the East African mountains providing the framework for future studies on their conservation, ecology, and evolution.

Key words: Africa, biodiversity assessment, ferns, lycophytes, Madagascar, phylogenetic composition