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A Taxonomic Revision of the Genus Dracophyllum Labill. (Ericaceae)

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posted on 2021-11-09, 00:48 authored by Venter, Stephanus

In recent years the New Zealand biogeographic paradigm has shifted from 'Moa's Ark' (Bellamy et al. 1990) to the view that most biota has dispersed here in the lastà à ± 10 My (Fleming 1975, Pole 1994, McGlone et al. 2001). Large and widely distributed genera on island archipelagos and oceanic islands are important elements for the investigation of evolutionary processes such as dispersal from continents to islands and back, adaptive radiation and in some cases extinction. The genus Dracophyllum (Ericaceae: Richeeae) occurs on the Australian continent and the New Zealand archipelago as well as on many oceanic islands in the region. With its wide distribution, ecological importance and apparent taxonomic complexity, a monograph and phylogenetic study of Dracophyllum will make a valuable contribution towards the understanding of the above- mentioned processes. There is still uncertainty about generic limits within tribe Richeeae (Dracophyllum Labill., Richea R. Br. and Sphenotoma R. Br. ex Sweet). Sphenotoma is geographically isolated (southwest Western Australia), monophyletic and forms a distinct evolutionary lineage that diverged early from Dracophyllum and Richea (Powell et al. 1996, Kron et al. 2002). The generic limits between Dracophyllum and Richea still need to be addressed, preferably by making use of DNA sequence data. There are two fundamental aims of systematics: a) to discover, describe and name all species and b) to document the changes on the branches that have occurred during evolution and to transform these into a predictive classification system that reflects evolution (Systematics 18 Agenda 2000). Systematics is therefore the study of the biological diversity that exists on earth today and its evolutionary history (Judd et al. 1999). Taxonomic revisions, especially of large groups, need to focus on groups that are monophyletic (i.e. comprising an ancestor and all of its descendents) and not constrained by geography. Generic delimitation can become problematic when the flora of a specific region is studied in isolation. Many important aspects of genotypic and phenotypic variation are then not taken into consideration, resulting in a skewed and unrealistic representation of the genus as a whole. The long list of synonyms in the southern hemisphere for the genus Veronica L. is a reflection of this situation: Paederota L., Hebe Comm. ex Juss., Derwentia Raf., Pygmaea Hook.f., Detzneria Schltr. ex Diels, Parahebe W.R.B.Oliv., Chionohebe B.G.Briggs & Ehrend., Leonohebe Heads, Heliohebe Garn.-Jones and Hebejeebie Heads.


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Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Author Retains Copyright

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Biological Sciences


Garnock-Jones, Phil