Congruent biogeographical disjunctions at a continent-wide scale: Quantifying and clarifying the role of biogeographic barriers in the Australian tropics

Robert D. Edwards, Michael D. Crisp, Dianne H. Cook, Lyn G. Cook

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Aim To test whether novel and previously hypothesized biogeogaphic barriers in the Australian Tropics represent significant disjunction points or hard barriers, or both, to the distribution of plants. Location Australian tropics: Australian Monsoon Tropics and Australian Wet Tropics. Methods The presence or absence of 6,861 plant species was scored across 13 putative biogeographic barriers in the Australian Tropics, including two that have not previously been recognised. Randomizations of these data were used to test whether more species showed disjunctions (gaps in distribution) or likely barriers (range limits) at these points than expected by chance. Results Two novel disjunctions in the Australian Tropics flora are identified in addition to eleven putative barriers previously recognized for animals. Of these, eleven disjunction points (all within the Australian Monsoon Tropics) were found to correspond to range-ending barriers to a significant number of species, while neither of the two disjunctions found within the Australian Wet Tropics limited a significant number of species' ranges. Main conclusions Biogeographic barriers present significant distributional limits to native plant species in the Australian Monsoon Tropics but not in the Australian Wet Tropics.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0174812
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2017

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