Sri Lankan BioProvince
This BioProvince (as defined by Armen Takhtajan) comprises both Sri Lanka and the Maldive Islands. Four fifths of Sri Lanka is composed of solid crystalline rock of Precambrian age, while the rest consists of Miocene Limestone and sediments of Jurassic and Quaternary age. The Maldives are coral islands. The climate is tropical with no well-marked seasonal changes. However, the southwest monsoon brings rain to the southwest corner of Sri Lanka from May to September (summer months) and the northeast monsoon brings some rain to the rest of the island mainly between December and February. Sri Lanka together with part of India (the Indian Plate) was originally part of the ancient landmass of Gondwanaland. Towards the latter part of the Mesozoic era this supercontinent started breaking up into various crustal plates. The Indian Plate drifted north and eventually about 45 million years ago collided with what is now the Asian landmass resulting in the development of the Himalayas. During the ice ages there was more or less a continuous land bridge between India and Sri Lanka but they have always been separated by an arid zone. Consequently, the wetter parts of Sri Lanka have been isolated for many millions of years allowing the development of an endemic flora and fauna. This arid barrier has also allowed ancient Gondwanan elements to survive particularly in the upland cloud forests. Today it is estimated that at least 30% of species are endemic and there are a considerable number of endemic genera. The rich flora has more of a Malesian character than that of the Indian Peninsula.
The following accounts for this BioProvince have been written or will be written with particular reference to endemic and locally important species. Accounts available are displayed in green or yellow. Those displayed in red are either in the pipeline or awaiting expert contributions.
|Endemic Vascular Plant Flora|
Artocarpus nobilis (Moraceae) a tree related to breadfruit endemic to the wet zone forests of Sri Lanka (Copyright © 2010 Peter Martin Rhind)