Early British Collectors and Observers of the Macaronesian Flora; From Sloane to Darwin

Javier Francisco-Ortega, Arnoldo Santos-Guerra, Charlie E. Jarvis, Mark A. Carine, Miguel Menezes de Sequeira and Mike Maunder

in Beyond Cladistics

Published by University of California Press

Published in print October 2010 | ISBN: 9780520267725
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520947993 | DOI:
Early British Collectors and Observers of the Macaronesian Flora; From Sloane to Darwin

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The Macaronesian islands were an early place of interaction between European botanists and a spectacular flora characterized by high levels of endemism. In 1992, a project was launched to investigate the extent to which the flora of Macaronesia was known among pre-Linnaean botanists from Britain. This chapter reviews the major findings from that study. The main conclusion of this research is that these collections represent some of the most important milestones in the history of natural history of Macaronesia. It argues that these early studies helped to establish the Macaronesian islands as a resource for British horticultural collectors and as a scientific arena that ultimately, via the activities of authorities such as Hans Sloane, Alexander Von Humboldt, and Charles Darwin, created a pivotal role for islands in studies of biogeography and evolution, and subsequently in the development of conservation as a quantitative science. This chapter pays homage to Chris Humphries and is a celebration of the great tradition of synergy among horticulture, systematics, and field botany that has so characterized the study of the Macaronesian flora.

Keywords: Macaronesia; endemism; evolution; flora; Chris Humphries; Hans Sloane; Alexander Von Humboldt; Charles Darwin; biogeography; natural history

Chapter.  6710 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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