Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
Comparative Biogeography

Comparative Biogeography: Discovering and Classifying Biogeographical Patterns of a Dynamic Earth

Lynne R. Parenti
Malte C. Ebach
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: 1
Pages: 312
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Comparative Biogeography
    Book Description:

    To unravel the complex shared history of the Earth and its life forms, biogeographers analyze patterns of biodiversity, species distribution, and geological history. So far, the field of biogeography has been fragmented into divergent systematic and evolutionary approaches, with no overarching or unifying research theme or method. In this text, Lynne Parenti and Malte Ebach address this discord and outline comparative tools to unify biogeography. Rooted in phylogenetic systematics, this comparative biogeographic approach offers a comprehensive empirical framework for discovering and deciphering the patterns and processes of the distribution of life on Earth. The authors cover biogeography from its fundamental ideas to the most effective ways to implement them. Real-life examples illustrate concepts and problems, including the first comparative biogeographical analysis of the Indo-West Pacific, an introduction to biogeographical concepts rooted in the earth sciences, and the integration of phylogeny, evolution and earth history.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-94439-8
    Subjects: Geography

Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations Export to NoodleTools Export to RefWorks Export to EasyBib Export a RIS file (For EndNote, ProCite, Reference Manager, Zotero, Mendeley...) Export a Text file (For BibTex)
  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    (pp. 1-14)

    Biogeography is a comparative science. Classification is the foundation of comparative science. Whenever we compare two objects, we rely on a classification to decide whether they should be placed in the same group or in different groups. A scientific classification has two qualities (Szostak, 2005:2): it should first identify an exhaustive set of types, such as the Periodic Table of chemical elements, and second be based on some theoretical ordering principle, such as atomic number. In physics, the classification of colors was pioneered in the symmetrical six-color circle or wheel of German poet, writer, and naturalist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,...


      (pp. 17-52)

      Biogeography has a history as long as that of biology. From the earliest times, places were identified by their plants and animals. As organisms were classified, so were places; classification of organisms was naturally intertwined with classification of areas. Inevitably, development of and interest in the theory and methods of area classification have followed closely those of organismal classification. We briefly review that history as it relates to the development of comparative biogeography.

      Early naturalists pondered both the diversity and the distribution of plants and animals. In hisHistoria Animalium,¹ Aristotle identified animals with the places they lived: “There is...

    • THREE BUILDING BLOCKS OF BIOGEOGRAPHY: Endemic Areas and Areas of Endemism
      (pp. 53-74)

      The concept of endemism has long played a central role in biogeography and biodiversity investigations.¹ The modern meaning of the termendemismin biogeography has been credited to A. P. de Candolle (1820): a taxon is said to be endemic to an area if it lives there and nowhere else. The concept is useful and universal. Kangaroos are endemic to Australia. Piranhas are endemic to South America. Giant pandas are endemic to China. But not to all of Australia, not to all of South America, and not to all of China. Kangaroos, piranhas, and giant pandas live only in areas...

    • FOUR BUILDING BLOCKS OF BIOGEOGRAPHY: Biotic Areas and Area Homology
      (pp. 75-100)

      The role of biotic areas in biogeography is analogous to that of taxa in systematics. Taxa are defined by homologous relationships of their organic parts, called homologs. Similarly, biotic areas are defined by the homologous relationships of their endemic areas. These biotic components, or parts, are area homologs, analogous to taxa and their relationships (e.g., Morrone, 2001a). Relationships among biotic areas constitute the natural classification of place that can be used to test whether we have defined our biogeographic units, such as areas of endemism, in an informative, meaningful, and natural way. Area classifications, therefore, are derived directly from systematic...


      (pp. 103-118)

      Biologists and geographers come to biogeography from a broad range of fields, naturally bringing with them discipline-specific methods, assumptions, and goals, plus language, usually in the form of jargon. Systematists have applied cladistics, one method used to discover phylogenetic relationships among organisms, to analyses of area relationships using an array of methods, called by a variety of names: vicariance biogeography, cladistic biogeography, historical biogeography, phylogenetic biogeography, phylogeography, and comparative phylogeography, among others. Other systematists, in contrast, document and interpret distribution patterns without relying necessarily on cladistic hypotheses, particularly in panbiogeography, although these systematists rely on a biological classification.¹ Ecologists have...

      (pp. 119-152)

      An explosion of biogeographic methods and applications in the late 1970s and early 1980s coincided with a numerical revolution in systematics (see Crovello, 1981; Crisci, 2001; Williams and Ebach, 2008; Fattorini, 2008). Biogeography adopted many methods from cladistics, phylogenetic systematics, phenetics, and ecology—many of these matrix based and incorporating parsimony algorithms. The molecular revolution that followed in the 1990s also influenced biogeography, although few particular methods were developed specifically for a molecular-based biogeography. We group biogeographic procedures into two general types:methods(Table 6.1) andapplications(Table 6.2). Our goal is not to present an exhaustive review of methods...

      (pp. 153-188)

      Hypotheses of area relationship for the monophyletic taxa of a biota are vital for constructing a biogeographical classification, and thus vital for uncovering the ontological divisions of the Earth. Any technique that measures biotic or geographical proximity based solely on the shared taxic composition of areas is a similarity, orphenetic, method. Without biotic—that is, taxic—homology, there is no concept of evolutionary relationship. In Chapter 6, we reviewed a range of techniques that use biotic and geological similarity to establish area classifications. Those methods are considered preliminary in establishing a biogeographical classification because their results need to be...


      (pp. 191-212)

      Biogeographers hail from diverse backgrounds, including geography, taxonomy, systematics, and ecology. Most biogeographers likely align themselves with ecology, the study of the interactions of life, usually at the level of populations or species. Most biogeographers think of evolution (change over time) as taxic or molecular evolution resulting from mechanisms such as adaptation, predation, or competition. Geology, for many biogeographers, is little more than the theater in which the biotic evolutionary drama is played out. Few address the interactive relationship of biology and geology other than to acknowledge brief details of continental drift or more immediate geological phenomena, such as mountain...

    • NINE IMPLEMENTING PRINCIPLES: Biogeography of the Pacific
      (pp. 213-238)

      Pacific biotic distributions have challenged biogeographers for over two centuries, since the renowned voyages of British naval captain James Cook in the late 18th century discovered an array of startlingly diverse plants and animals unknown to western science.¹ Study of the Pacific biota revealed coherence of life throughout the basin as exemplified by numerous trans-Pacific tracks and sister groups, circum-Pacific distributions, and Pacific endemics. Coherence of a Pacific biota has supported various theories of coherence of Pacific geology, such as “expanding Earth” (e.g., Shields, 1979, 1983, 1991) and the correlated matching of trans-Pacific coastlines (McCarthy, 2003, 2005).

      The coherence of...

      (pp. 239-250)

      Biogeography incorporates a range of scientific disciplines, including taxonomy, systematics, paleontology, geology, ecology, and evolutionary biology. Because of this naturally broad reach, we are optimistic about the future of biogeography and its prospects for strengthening its position as a truly integrative science.

      Biogeography is practiced by a range of scientists who identify themselves as taxonomists, systematists, paleontologists, and so on. Few identify themselves principally as biogeographers, as noted by Nelson (1978; see also Ferris, 1980). This is one reason biogeography suffers from an “identity crisis” (Riddle, 2005). Another reason is the dizzying array of conflicting methods and goals (Chapter 6):...

  8. Glossary
    (pp. 251-258)
  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 259-280)
  10. Index
    (pp. 281-292)
  11. About the Authors
    (pp. 293-294)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 295-298)