As witnessed from the other contributions in this volume, the theory and methodology of biogeography has received attention from a wide range of perspectives. Broadly, these approaches fall into two groups — those that provide explanations in terms of ecology and those that provide explanations in terms of biotic and earth history. Ecologists generally consider distribution patterns at various levels of organization, from species in habitats to species across ranges in ecosystems, and hence they consider biogeography as a subsidiary of ecology. Ball (1975) pointed out that some ecologists (MacArthur and Wilson, 1967) do not even distinguish between ecology and biogeography. We do not think that anyone would challenge the idea that general similarities occur between on the one hand the floras and faunas of the Arctic and the Antarctic and on the other between the rain forests of Africa and South America. However, when examined from a taxonomic point of view the species in the different areas are quite distinct from one another. In other words, species in similar ‘niches’ are different taxa which have had different histories. Historical biogeography focuses on evolution — change in time and space in the different groups of the taxa present in the areas of interest. Historical biogeographers attempt to explain the history of biotas by looking for general similarities in the individual histories of the component taxa.
KeywordsConsensus Tree Paraphyletic Group Informative Component Marine Incursion Widespread Taxon
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