The ghost of competition past in the phylogeny of island endemic plants


  • Jonathan Silvertown

    Corresponding author
    1. Ecology and Evolution Research Group, Department of Biological Sciences, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA, UK
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  • 1Large endemic plant taxa found on oceanic archipelagos are frequently monophyletic, indicating that they originate from a single colonization event.
  • 2Colonization is a two-stage process requiring both dispersal and establishment to be successful. Accordingly, once-only colonization may be explained either by dispersal barriers limiting colonization, or by the first successful colonization of an island inhibiting the establishment of later arrivals through niche pre-emption and interspecific competition.
  • 3Using the endemic flora of the Canaries and Macaronesia as a test case, I argue that barriers to dispersal are low and that niche pre-emption is therefore the more likely explanation for the monophyly of large endemic groups in these islands.