Saturday, December 14, 2013

Homogenization of Mediterranean flora

The name ascribed to the sclerophyllous shrublands typical of the Mediterranean biome varies tremendously: "kwongan" and "mallee" in Australia, "chaparral" in California, "matorral" in Chile, "fynbos" in South Africa, and varies more so throughout the Mediterranean basin: "mato" in Portugal, "maquis" or "garrigue" in France, "macchia" in Italy, "phrygana" in Greece, and the list goes on!  Just like the local names; the forests, woodlands, and scrub associated with Mediterranean climate zones are incredibly diverse and endemic-rich.  Since this vegetation-type is broadly adapted to summer drought and winter rains, it's also easily transferable anthropogenically across vast geographic distances and floristic regions.  For example; at the Santa Barbara Mission (pictured above) you can observe: [front of lavanderia] the Aloe tree (Aloe barberae) native to South African fynbos, [front of Mission] the Peruvian peppertree (Schinus molle) native to South American matorral, [hills in back] the coastal sage scrub vegetation native to Californian coastal chaparral, and [frame right] the Gum tree (Eucalyptus spp.) native to Australian mallee.  Here's an interesting paper on the "Homogeocene" epoch by Putz 1998.