Phytogeography of the Lusitanian Macaronesia: biogeographic affinities in species richness and assemblage composition
Taylor and Francis
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Natural Sciences / Centre for Ecosystem Management
Analysis of biogeographic affinities is a key tool to establish and improve the resolution of hierarchical biogeographic systems. We describe patterns of species richness of the marine macroalgal flora across Lusitanian Macaronesia (Azores, Madeira, the Salvage Islands and the Canary Islands), and test (i) whether such differences are related to differences in proximity to the nearest continental shore and size among islands. We also explore biogeographic affinities in the composition of macroalgal assemblages (= presence/absence of each taxon in multivariate datasets) to determine (ii) whether each archipelago is a biogeographic unit within this ecoregion and (iii) whether patterns in assemblage composition are related to proximity (i.e. distances) among islands. Presence/absence matrices were created to test and visualize multivariate affinities among archipelagos. A total of 872 taxa were compiled. Species richness peaked at the Canary Islands and decreased towards the Azores; the pattern matched a progressive increase in distance from the nearest continental shores, matching the classical island biogeography theory. Intra-archipelago differences in species richness were largely related to variations in island size. Biogeographic similarities among archipelagos were hierarchically structured. Madeira and the Salvage Islands constituted one biogeographic unit. Floras from the Azores, Madeira and the Salvage Islands were barely separable from each other, but were different from those at the Canary Islands. Such biogeographic similarities among islands were negatively correlated with the geographical separation (i.e. distances) among them. Proximity to nearby continental shores, in conjunction with large- and meso-scale oceanographic patterns, seems to interact to create patterns in richness and composition of algal assemblages across Lusitanian Macaronesia.