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Malagasy/Indo-australo-malesian Phytogeographic Connections


Home | Introduction | Gondwanan Relicts | "Lemurian Stepping Stones"
Long Distance Dispersal | Conclusion | References

CONCLUSION

As disjunct outliers of the current Indo-australo-malesian flora, those Malagasy humid forest species whose affinities lie far to the east possess especially high information content, and therefore increased conservation value (Vane-Wright et al. 1991). Barring the discovery of fossil evidence of former distribution (Coetzee & Muller 1984), extant taxa provide our only means of constructing historical biogeographic hypotheses. From a phylogenetic standpoint, relict taxa constitute long basal branches critical for understanding both ingroup, and broader, higher level outgroup relationships. Extinctions of outlying taxa have greater biogeographic (and possibly evolutionary) consequences than extinctions of core-area taxa, although, of course, neither is desirable. Just as the Malagasy language and customs continue to reveal the S.E Asian origin of the Malagasy people, let us hope that the Malagasy flora will also retain its far eastern character.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I wish to dedicate this paper to Professor Hugh H. Iltis, who fostered my interest in phytogeography. I thank the people of Madagascar for welcoming vazaha scientists with such open arms. This research was conducted while holding NSF grant DEB-9024749.

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