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The Indo-Malaysian North-Australian Phycogeographical Region Revised

W. Vyverman
Published 1996 · Biology

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The present knowledge of the freshwater algal flora in the Indo-Malaysian North Australian region is reviewed. More than 4700 taxa have been recorded from this region. Desmids, diatoms and cyanobacteria are among the better studied groups of organisms, while phytoflagellates have received very little attention. Phytoplankton communities in tropical lakes are generally similar to summer communities of temperate lakes. In addition, there is a large number of typical tropical taxa, including pantropical and regional endemic elements. Local endemism occurs in the old Tertiary lakes of the region. The composition of algal communities changes markedly along an altitudinal gradient, and tropical taxa are gradually replaced by taxa characteristic for cool climatic conditions. Biogeographical distribution patterns are exemplified for the desmids and diatoms. Among the more than 2680 desmids recorded from the Indo-Malaysian North Australian region, about 800 have never been found elsewhere. Dispersal by migratory birds and past climatic changes might explain distribution patterns. Because of incomplete taxonomy and a general lack of understanding of the autoecology, distribution and speciation of freshwater algae, however, there remain serious obstacles for detailed biogeographical analyses.



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