Aim Floristic blocks and areas of endemism resulting from a parsimony analysis of endemicity (PAE) using raw floristic data versus data generated from distributional modelling for 130 species in the genus Senecio Tourn. ex L. distributed in the Mediterranean-type climate area of Central Chile were compared, and the results were used to identify conservation priorities for the flora of the region.
Location Central Chile, between 30° and 38° S.
Methods Using herbarium records, a species × area matrix consisting of presence/absence data was constructed from a 0.5° × 0.5° grid. Distributional modelling techniques incorporating vegetation formations, elevation and the contagion index were used to interpolate floristic composition of poorly known areas. Parsimony analysis of endemicity was used to identify floristic blocks and areas of endemism.
Results Using the number of most parsimonious trees as an index, distributional modelling greatly optimized the results of the PAE analysis. Three floristic blocks and four areas of endemism were suggested based on the PAE results using potential distribution data not incorporating the contagion index, while four blocks and two areas of endemism were suggested from the PAE results using potential distribution data incorporating the contagion index. Floristic blocks for the northern coast, southern Andes, and northern/central Andes were found, with some blocks showing divisions within them representing distinct geographic subunits. Major breaks between and within floristic blocks were identified at 32.5°–33° S and 34.5°–35° S.
Main conclusions The floristic blocks identified with the distributional modelling and PAE correspond well to results from some previous studies and support hypothesized biogeographic divisions within Central Chile. The results were similar to those obtained from parallel analysis of the entire tree flora of Central Chile. The vegetative formation-based distributional modelling produced robust and reproducible results when used along with PAE, especially when the contagion index was incorporated, and is a useful technique for area classification. The results demonstrate the utility of Senecio as an indicator genus for biogeography and conservation in southern South America.