Biogeographical affinities of the New Caledonian biota: a puzzle with 24 pieces
Australia, New Caledonia, New Guinea, New Zealand, panbiogeography, Solomon Islands, tectonics, Vanuatu, vicariance
Abstract Aim The distributions of many New Caledonian taxa were reviewed in order to ascertain the main biogeographical connections with other areas. Location Global. Methods Panbiogeographical analysis. Results Twenty-four areas of endemism (tracks) involving New Caledonia and different areas of Gondwana, Tethys and the central Pacific were retrieved. Most are supported by taxa of lower and higher plants, and lower and higher animals. Main conclusions Although parts of New Caledonia were attached to Gondwana for some time in the mid-Cretaceous, most of the New Caledonian terranes formed as oceanic island arcs and sections of sea floor bearing seamounts. The flora and fauna have evolved and survived for tens of millions of years as metapopulations on ephemeral islands. Later, the biotas were juxtaposed and fused during terrane accretion. This process, together with the rifting of Gondwana, explains the biogeographical affinities of New Caledonia with parts of Gondwana, Tethys and the Pacific.