Intercontinental disjunctions are common in land plants, but how populations of closely related plants end up on distant continents is not well understood. Geographical isolation could be shaped by continental drift or plants could have dispersed to distant habitats on wind currents or with migratory birds. Californian plants are ideal for investigating these questions because many share common ancestry with plants found in the Mediterranean region of Chile, over five thousand miles away. I visited Chile to meet local experts and comb through the collections in the National herbarium with the goal of understanding these intercontinental disjunctions. I found out that while disjunct populations of plants present excellent examples to test evolutionary questions, much of their diversity remains undescribed taxonomically. I will use the data I gathered to understand the basic biology, geographical distributions, and evolutionary histories of these plants.
August 30, 2018