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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2008 Oct 27;363(1508):3319-34. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2008.0114.

Evolution of New Zealand's terrestrial fauna: a review of molecular evidence.

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Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution, Institute of Molecular Biosciences, Massey University, Private Bag 11-222, Palmerston North 5301, New Zealand.


New Zealand biogeography has been dominated by the knowledge that its geophysical history is continental in nature. The continental crust (Zealandia) from which New Zealand is formed broke from Gondwanaland ca 80 Ma, and there has existed a pervading view that the native biota is primarily a product of this long isolation. However, molecular studies of terrestrial animals and plants in New Zealand indicate that many taxa arrived since isolation of the land, and that diversification in most groups is relatively recent. This is consistent with evidence for species turnover from the fossil record, taxonomic affinity, tectonic evidence and observations of biological composition and interactions. Extinction, colonization and speciation have yielded a biota in New Zealand which is, in most respects, more like that of an oceanic archipelago than a continent.

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