Fossil Ericaceae from New Zealand: deconstructing the use of fossil evidence in historical biogeography
Jordan, GJ and Bannister, JM and Mildenhall, DC and Zetter, R and Lee, DE, Fossil Ericaceae from New Zealand: deconstructing the use of fossil evidence in historical biogeography, American Journal of Botany, 97, (1) pp. 59-70. ISSN 0002-9122 (2010) [Refereed Article]
The Australasian Ericaceae epitomize many problems in understanding the biogeography of the southern hemisphere, especially the relative contributions of Gondwanan vicariance and dispersal. Late Cretaceous fossil pollen of the family suggests extreme antiquity of the group in Australasia, but recent phylogenetic evidence suggests much younger histories for most of the groups in that region. This paper documents two new species of latest Oligocene-Early Miocene macrofossils of Ericaceae from New Zealand. Cyathodophyllum novae-zelandiae G.J.Jord. & Bannister gen. and sp. nov. is the oldest record of the tribe Styphelieae, but is of a clade now extinct in New Zealand, possibly related to the Tasmanian genus Cyathodes. Richeaphyllum waimumuensis G.J.Jord. & Bannister sp. nov. is a member of Richeeae, but it is ambiguous as to whether it is a member of the impressive modern New Zealand radiation in Dracophyllum. These fossils emphasize the fact that at least some of the fossil pollen of Ericaceae may have been derived from extinct lineages and therefore should not be used as evidence for the antiquity of any modern New Zealand clade of Ericaceae. New fossils and/or detailed analysis of fossil and extant pollen may help resolve such uncertainty.