The Flora of Lord Howe Island – Origins and Diversity
- The Flora of Lord Howe Island – Origins and Diversity
By Dr Bill Baker, Head Palms Section, Kew Gardens
Lord Howe Island is a minute volcanic landmass (12 km2) in the Pacific Ocean that is home to 241 native plant species, more than 100 of which are found nowhere else. How did such extreme endemism arise in so small a space? What mechanisms promote species divergence in the face of the homogenising influence of ongoing gene flow? In this talk, we explore these questions using a text book case study the Howea palms and place this important case of sympatric speciation in plants in the context of the island’s flora as a whole and speciation thinking in general.