Wilhelm Barthlott and Stefan Porembski (both at the University of Bonn) have started botanical work on inselbergs in 1990 in West Africa (Côte d’Ivoire) which was supported by the German Research Foundation (DFG). Surprisingly little was known about the floristics and ecology of Ivorian inselbergs and during the following decade profound insights into their major plant communities, life-forms (in particular desiccation-tolerance) and various other botanical aspects were gained. In addition, PhD-students (Rüdiger Seine, Uwe Becker, Andreas Gröger) were part of our group which provided detailed data from East Africa (Zimbabwe) and South America (Venezuela).
Stefan Porembski moved to Rostock in 1998 and since then inselberg research conducted by him continued in West Africa. Moreover, studies about the flora and vegetation of inselbergs in other parts of Gondwana were started: a “Gondwanan Gang” of inselberg research was created.
Current research from our team at University of Rostock focuses on Madagascar (in cooperation with Missouri Botanical Garden) and Brazil (in cooperation with Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais, Universidade Estadual Paulista, Jardim Botanico do Rio de Janeiro). At the moment, a Brazilian student, Luiza de Paula, is developing her PhD project at University of Rostock, conducting studies on inselbergs in southeastern Brazil, which deal with patterns of species diversity on these rock outcrops.
Furthermore, using the desiccation-tolerant Velloziaceae as an example, Juliane Rexroth works in Madagascar with species of Xerophyta concerning aspects of population differentiation applying molecular techniques. Already during our first studies in West Africa it became clear that inselbergs possess links with other types of rock outcrops. For example, it became clear that certain plant species that are adapted to prolonged periods of drought are shared between inselbergs, ferricretes and sandstone outcrops. In order to understand the links between the various types of rock outcrops we intend to bring together rock outcrop researchers from different geographic regions and disciplines.