Australian Journal of Botany Australian Journal of Botany Society
Southern hemisphere botanical ecosystems

Biogeography, evolution and palaeoecology of Nothofagus (Nothofagaceae): the contribution of the fossil record

Australian Journal of Botany 49(3) 321 - 332
Published: 2001


Nothofagus is an ancient genus with a distribution that has attracted considerable interest from biogeographers. The lack of consensus among biogeographical reconstructions is probably due to emphasis being placed solely or largely on the living species. Nothofagus had a much greater distribution and diversity in the past than it has now; this makes it difficult to reconstruct its history from living species’ interrelationships and distribution. Unfortunately, the fossil record is difficult to interpret, and contains many records that convey no useful information or possibly even misinformation. However, the best fossil records of Nothofagus provide past distributions that must be explained by biogeographical hypotheses and place minimum times on evolutionary events within the genus. They also provide information on past ecological associations that are best explained by invoking extinct climates.

© CSIRO 2001

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