Temporal and palaeoclimatic context of the evolution of insular woodiness in the Canary Islands

Alexander Hooft van Huysduynen*, Steven Janssens, Vincent Merckx, Rutger Vos, Luis Valente, Alexander Zizka, Maximilian Larter, Betül Karabayir, Daphne Maaskant, Youri Witmer, José María Fernández-Palacios, Lea de Nascimento, Ruth Jaén-Molina, Juli Caujapé Castells, Águedo Marrero-Rodríguez, Marcelino Del Arco, Frederic Lens*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Insular woodiness (IW), referring to the evolutionary transition from herbaceousness toward woodiness on islands, has arisen more than 30 times on the Canary Islands (Atlantic Ocean). One of the IW hypotheses suggests that drought has been a major driver of wood formation, but we do not know in which palaeoclimatic conditions the insular woody lineages originated. Therefore, we provided an updated review on the presence of IW on the Canaries, reviewed the palaeoclimate, and estimated the timing of origin of woodiness of 24 insular woody lineages that represent a large majority of the insular woody species diversity on the Canaries. Our single, broad-scale dating analysis shows that woodiness in 60%-65% of the insular woody lineages studied originated within the last 3.2 Myr, during which Mediterranean seasonality (yearly summer droughts) became established on the Canaries. Consequently, our results are consistent with palaeoclimatic aridification as a potential driver of woodiness in a considerable proportion of the insular woody Canary Island lineages. However, the observed pattern between insular woodiness and palaeodrought during the last couple of million years could potentially have emerged as a result of the typically young age of the native insular flora, characterized by a high turnover.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12220-12231
Number of pages12
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - Sept-2021

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