120 years of untangling the divaricate habit: a review (2021)
Type of ContentJournal Article
PublisherNew Zealand Natural Sciences
EditorsMeijer, Christopher G.
The evolution of divaricate plants in New Zealand has been the subject of long-running debate among botanists and ecologists. Hypotheses about this remarkable case of convergent evolution have focused mainly on two different types of selective pressures: the Plio-Pleistocene advent of cool, dry climates, or browsing by now-extinct moa. Here, we review the scientific literature relating to New Zealand divaricates, and present a list of 81 taxa whose architectures fall on the divaricate habit spectrum. We recommend a series of standardised terms to facilitate clear communication about these species. We identify potentially informative areas of research yet to be explored, such as the genetics underlying the establishment and control of this habit. We also review work about similar plants overseas, proposing a list of 53 such species as a first step towards more comprehensive inventories; these may motivate further studies of the ecology, morphology and evolutionary history of these overseas plants which could help shed light on the evolution of their New Zealand counterparts. Finally, we compile published divergence dates between divaricate species and their non-divaricate relatives, which suggest that the divaricate habit is fairly recent (< 10 My) in most cases.
Keywordsconvergent evolution; divaricating shrubs; heteroblasty; moa; New Zealand; structural plant defences
RightsCC-BY 4.0 International
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