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The Sunda-Sahul Floristic Exchange

Untangling the effects of the Sunda-Sahul Floristic Exchange on the evolution of the Southeast Asian and northern Australian flora

The convergence of the Sunda continental shelf (Peninsular Malaysia and parts of Indonesia and the Philippines), the Sahul continental shelf (Australia and New Guinea), and Wallacea from c. 25 Mya is one of the most significant events in global biogeography.

The collision resulted in widespread geological change in the region, and facilitated the exchange of Sundanian and Sahulian floras that had evolved in isolation (the ‘Sunda–Sahul Floristic Exchange’ (SSFE)). This exchange has fascinated scientists since the time of Alfred R. Wallace, whose observations of disjunct Sundanian and Sahulian biota in the region sparked the field of biogeography itself. Yet despite the long history of research on the topic, much remains to be understood about the effects and drivers of the SSFE — knowledge that is critical for understanding why the flora of the region is the way it is today, and  how best to conserve it. Recent advancements in technology and data availability present an opportunity to gain a more comprehensive, accurate and nuanced understanding of the SSFE through space and time. In this seminar I present some of the key findings of my PhD research where I have used floristic, phylogeographic and phylogenetic data to understand the patterns and drivers of the SSFE, and particularly its influence on the northern Australian flora.

Ms Elizabeth Joyce from the Australian Tropical Herbarium and James Cook University presented her work in an online seminar given on Wednesday, 17 Mar 2021. Watch again this seminar in the video below:

For details of access to this e-seminar or more information about our seminars and future announcements, please contact Hervé Sauquet.