"explain New Zealand and the world falls into place around it."
(Nelson, 1975)

The contrast between the recent mountain uplift and alpine floristic diversity has polarized opinions. Explanations for the evolution of this diversity have ranged from ancient origins in New Zealand to recent arrival by long distance dispersal. But syntheses of phylogenetic data with fossil and geological evidence we have gained important new insights.

Many lineages in the contemporary alpine flora arrived in New Zealand by long distance dispersal after mountain building began. Often these new colonisers diversified rapidly during the late Tertiary and Quaternary, a period of dramatic geological change and climatic fluctuations. These studies also provide general insights into the importance of dispersal for shaping Southern Hemisphere distribution patterns.

This project formed part of my PhD thesis completed under the supervisor of Dr. Peter Lockhart and Dr. Alastair Robertson.