Review of plant biogeographic studies in Brazil

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Abstract

Abstract  Molecular phylogenetic studies have become a major area of interest in plant systematics, and their impacts on historical biogeographic hypotheses are not to be disregarded. In Brazil, most historical biogeographic studies have relied on animal phylogenies, whereas plant biogeographic studies have largely lacked a phylogenetic component, having a limited utility for historical biogeography. That country, however, is of great importance for most biogeographic studies of lowland tropical South America, and it includes areas from a number of biogeographic regions of the continent. Important biogeographic reports have been published as part of phylogenetic studies, taxonomic monographs, and regional accounts for small areas or phytogeographic domains, but the available information is subsequently scattered and sometimes hard to find. In this paper we review some relevant angiosperm biogeographic studies in Brazil. Initially we briefly discuss the importance of other continents as source areas for the South American flora. Then we present a subdivision of Brazil into phytogeographic domains, and we cite studies that have explored the detection of biogeographic units (areas of endemism) and how they are historically related among those domains. Examples of plant taxa that could be used to test some biogeographic hypotheses are provided throughout, as well as taxa that exemplify several patterns of endemism and disjunction in the Brazilian angiosperm flora.

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