The bryophyte flora of northern Iturup (north-west Pacific): between the circumboreal and East Asian floristic regions
Introduction. The Kuril Islands Chain demarcates the boundary between the circumpolar and East Asian floras in the amphi-Pacific and is a trans-Oceanic migration route from warm-temperate insular East Asia to north-east Asia and Beringia. This paper reviews the flora of the northern part of Iturup Island in regards to its bryogeography and taxonomic diversity, as well as its relative position among other bryophyte floras of north-east and East Asia.
Methods. The paper uses morphological methods to identify the species composition and detrended correspondence analysis to identify the position of the northern Iturup Island in the system of local floras of the eastern, extra-tropical, Pacific.
Key results. The flora is closely related to the bryophyte floras of the southern Kurils and Hokkaido Island, but has been found to be distinctly distant from the ‘true’ cool-temperate East Asian floras, as well as from the boreal and hemiarctic floras of north-east Asia. Instead, the floras of the south Kurils and northern Hokkaido Island belong to a peculiar intermediate phytogeographic province that cannot be unambiguously placed in either the East Asian or circumboreal floristic regions. The hemiboreal character of the bryophyte flora of northern Iturup Island is in contrast to the general appearance of many of the dominant vegetation communities on the island, which are more characteristic of the hemiarctic.
Conclusion. There is no robust evidence to refer the bryophyte flora of northern Iturup either to the circumboreal or East Asian Floristic Region, the flora belongs to a unique intermediate province between the two regions.