New Zealand plants introduced by Chinese?

Ken Kinman kinman2 at YAHOO.COM
Mon Jul 26 19:15:48 CDT 2004

JeF wrote:
     These species are part of a syndrome that has been called the Nothofagus distribution, where the same species, or much related ones are presently distributed from S America over New Zealand and Australia and even into Malesia. An explanation that they 'hopped over' via Antarctica when it was still habitable does not seem possible because of the time factor involved. Grasses are presently believed to have originated in the Eocene and not in the (end) Cretaceous, as is found in some manuals. Moreover, Hierochloe is quite derived, which makes it even more recent.
My response:
     I would agree that invoking "Antarctica hopping" (perhaps "Antarctica bridging" would be a better phrase) is inappropriate for such disjunct populations of a single species or even most species groups.  Dispersal by mankind, birds, wind, water, or rafting, etc. seems far more likely given the time factor.

     However, I do believe Antarctica should be considered as a bridge (or area of origin) for various family group taxa (and even some older genera) with such Nothofagus distributions.  That includes grass taxa, since grasses may be older than we think (Cretaceous would not surprise me) and also that Antarctica may have had habitable areas more recent than generally believed.
          ----- Cheers,  Ken Kinman
P.S.  As for any species of plants that the Chinese may have introduced into New Zealand from the New World, I still think a circumnavigation of the Pacific (or at least the southern Pacific) should be considered as an alternative explanation.  I am just suggesting that if the Chinese discovered the Americas in the early 15th Century, it may have been only on the Pacific side (it's the Caribbean stuff that seems the most controversial).

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