Biology & Philosophy

, Volume 27, Issue 4, pp 497-520

First online:

Carlquist revisited: history, success, and applicability of a natural history model

  • Stephen R. MidwayAffiliated withDepartment of Biology and Marine Biology, University of North Carolina Wilmington Email author 
  • , Anne-Marie C. HodgeAffiliated withDepartment of Biology and Marine Biology, University of North Carolina Wilmington

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In 1966, island biogeographer Sherwin Carlquist published a list of 24 principles governing long-distance dispersal and evolution on islands. The 24 principles describe many aspects of island biology, from long-distance dispersal and establishment to community change and assemblage. Although this was an active period for island biogeography, other models and research garnered much more attention than did Carlquist’s. In this review, over 40 years of support for or against Carlquist’s principles is presented. Recent work has supported most of the 24 principles, and improved methodologies have generally substantiated his initial claims. However, Carlquist’s original work and ideas remain relatively under-represented in the biogeographic literature. Use of philosophical model domains provides one explanation as to why Carlquist’s work has received little attention. Carlquist’s principles are largely natural history tests, and don’t translate well into the theoretical, design of preserves, or the experimental domains—whereas other competing models do well in such domains.


Sherwin Carlquist Long-distance dispersal Island biogeography Model domains Natural history Oceanic islands