Plant Diversity ›› 2006, Vol. 28 ›› Issue (05): 439-452.

• Articles •     Next Articles

Fossil History and Modern Distribution of the Genus Abies (Pinaceae)

XIANG Xiao-Guo; CAO Ming; ZHOU Zhe-Kun   

  1. Laboratory of Biodiversity and Biogeography, Kunming Institute of Botany , Chinese Academy of Sciences
  • Received:2005-12-05 Online:2006-10-25 Published:2006-10-25
  • Contact: ZHOU Zhe-Kun

Abstract: The plants of the genus Abies are dominant and key species in dark conifer forest in the Northern Hemisphere. There are 52 species, 1 subspecies and 12 varities of genus Abies in the world. The history and modern distribution of
Abies were discussed at present paper. The genus has 3 modern distributional centers: South Europe, North America and East Asia. These areas are also rich in fossil records. The vertical distribution regions of Abies are from sea level to 4 700m, concentrated in 1 000 - 2 000 m (15 species ) and 2 500 - 4 000 m ( 13 species ). In China, the genus distributes in 20 provinces, especially abundant in the Hengduan Mountians. Meanwhile endemic and relic phenomea are obvious in this genus. There are 7 relical species with both limited individuals and limited distributed regions. Based on the fossil records and the newest phylogenetic data, the following hypothesis was proposed: Abies originated from the mid- and high altitude of the Northern Hemisphere in the Middle Cretaceous and it was dispersed forward to the south area in the Eocene due to global climate cooler down. The distribution of Abies was deeply impacted by geological events such as upleft of Himalaya, Alps, Rocky Mountains, the occurrence of Aisan Monsoon as well as Quaternary glaciers. Finally the current
distribution pattern appeared at the Quaternary. The genus Abies has similar fossil history and modern distribution pattern with Cathaya and Pseudolarix.

Key words: Abies

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