Skip to main content
Dryad logo

Data from: Pleistocene extinctions as drivers of biogeographical patterns on the easternmost Canary Islands


Garcia-Verdugo, Carlos et al. (2019), Data from: Pleistocene extinctions as drivers of biogeographical patterns on the easternmost Canary Islands, Dryad, Dataset,


Subtropical islands are often viewed as refuges where Quaternary climatic shifts driving global episodes of extinction were buffered. Island biodiversity, however, may have been impacted by climatic fluctuations at local scales, particularly in spatially heterogeneous island systems. In this study, we generated a conceptual framework for predicting the potential impact of Pleistocene extinctions on the biogeographical pattern of the Canarian spermatophyte flora, with a focus on the easternmost Canarian islands (ECI). Then, we performed an exhaustive bibliographic revision (270 studies) to examine whether taxonomic, phylogenetic and phylogeographical data support our predictions. Although molecular information is limited for many lineages, the available data suggest that the majority of extant ECI plant taxa may be the result of relatively recent (<1 Ma) dispersal from surrounding insular and mainland areas. Different lines of evidence are compatible with the idea of a Pleistocene period of frequent lineage extirpation on ECI. Extinction may thus have provided new ecological opportunities for recent (re)colonization, with some cases of recent establishment mediated by facilitation. Considering background extinction on ECI, we describe five general patterns of colonization for Canarian plant lineages. In addition to factors related to island ontogeny and long‐distance dispersal, we suggest that Pleistocene extinctions may have significantly contributed to extant biogeographical patterns in the Canarian archipelago, such as the biased distribution ranges of island plants and the low endemic richness on ECI. This new scenario provides testable hypotheses for future studies dealing with the phylogeography, taxonomy and conservation of terrestrial biodiversity on the Canarian islands, and possibly, on other near‐shore islands.

Usage Notes



Canary Islands