J Syst Evol ›› 2009, Vol. 47 ›› Issue (5): 331-348.DOI: 10.1111/j.1759-6831.2009.00054.x

• Reviews & Research Articles • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Evolution of the Madrean–Tethyan disjunctions and the North and South American amphitropical disjunctions in plants

1 Jun WEN* 2 Stefanie M. ICKERT-BOND   

  1. 1 (Department of Botany, MRC-166, Smithsonian Institution, PO Box 37012, Washington, DC 20013-7012, USA)
    2 (UA Museum of the North Herbarium and Department of Biology and Wildlife, University of Alaska Fairbanks, Fairbanks, AK 99775-6960, USA) * Author for correspondence. E-mail: wenj@si.edu; Tel.: +1-202-633-4881; Fax: +1-202-786-2563.
  • Received:2009-08-07 Published:2009-09-24

Abstract: The present paper reviews advances in the study of two major intercontinental disjunct biogeographic patterns: (i) between Eurasian and western North American deserts with the Mediterranean climate (the Madrean–Tethyan disjunctions); and (ii) between the temperate regions of North and South America (the amphitropical disjunctions). Both disjunct patterns have multiple times of origin. The amphitropical disjunctions have largely resulted from long-distance dispersal, primarily from the Miocene to the Holocene, with available data indicating that most lineages dispersed from North to South America. Results of recent studies on the Mediterranean disjuncts between the deserts of Eurasia and western North America support the multiple modes of origin and are mostly consistent with hypotheses of long-distance dispersal and the North Atlantic migration. Axelrod's Madrean–Tethyan hypothesis, which implies vicariance between the two regions in the early Tertiary, has been favored by a few studies. The Beringian migration corridor for semiarid taxa is also supported in some cases.

Key words: amphitropical disjunctions, biogeography, Madrean-tethyan disjunctions, Mediterranean disjuncts, North-South American disjunctions