Neto, C., Costa, J.C., Figueiredo, A., Capelo, J., Gomes, I., Vitória, S., Semedo, J.M., Lopes, A., Dinis, H., Correia, E., Duarte, M.C. & Romeiras, M.M. (2020) The role of climate and topography in shaping the diversity of plant communities in Cabo Verde Islands.Diversity, 12(2), 80. DOI:10.3390/d12020080 (IF2019 1,402; Q3 Ecology)
The flora and vegetation of the archipelago of Cabo Verde is dominated by Macaronesian, Mediterranean, and particularly by African tropical elements, resulting from its southernmost location, when compared to the other islands of the Macaronesia (i.e., Azores, Madeira, Selvagens, and Canary Islands). Very likely, such a geographical position entailed higher susceptibility to extreme climatic fluctuations, namely those associated with the West African Monsoon oscillations. These fluctuations led to a continuous aridification, which is a clear trend shown by most recent studies based on continental shelf cores. Promoting important environmental shifts, such climatic fluctuations are accepted as determinant to explain the current spatial distribution patterns of taxa, as well as the composition of the plant communities. In this paper, we present a comprehensive characterization of the main plant communities in Cabo Verde, and we discuss the role of the climatic and topoclimatic diversity in shaping the vegetation composition and distribution of this archipelago. Our study reveals a strong variation in the diversity of plant communities across elevation gradients and distinct patterns of richness among plant communities. Moreover, we present an overview of the biogeographical relationships of the Cabo Verde flora and vegetation with the other Macaronesian Islands and northwestern Africa. We discuss how the distribution of plant communities and genetic patterns found among most of the endemic lineages can be related to Africa’s ongoing aridification, exploring the impacts of a process that marks northern Africa from the Late Miocene until the present.