The island rule and its application to multiple plant traits
The Island Rule refers to a continuum of body size changes where large mainland species evolve to become smaller and small species evolve to become larger on islands. Previous work focuses almost solely on animals, with virtually no previous tests of its predictions on plants. I tested for (1) reduced floral size diversity on islands, a logical corollary of the island rule and (2) evidence of the Island Rule in plant stature, leaf size and petiole length. Endemic island plants originated from small islands surrounding New Zealand; Antipodes, Auckland, Bounty, Campbell, Chatham, Kermadec, Lord Howe, Macquarie, Norfolk, Snares, Stewart and the Three Kings. I compared the morphology of 65 island endemics and their closest ‘mainland’ relative. Species pairs were identified. Differences between archipelagos located at various latitudes were also assessed. Floral sizes were reduced on islands relative to the ‘mainland’, consistent with predictions of the Island Rule. Plant stature, leaf size and petiole length conformed to the Island Rule, with smaller plants increasing in size, and larger plants decreasing in size. Results indicate that the conceptual umbrella of the Island Rule can be expanded to plants, accelerating understanding of how plant traits evolve on isolated islands.