Ever since 19th century European naturalists first visited the New and Old World tropics, biogeographers have been intrigued by the enormous latitudinal variation in the richness of plant and animal species. A simple explanation eluded Wallace, Bates, Darwin, Humboldt and the other great naturalists of the last century. In the intervening hundred years, biogeographers, ecologists, and palaeontologists have identified many other spatial and temporal patterns of species diversity, but the latitudinal gradient from the teeming richness of the tropics to the stark barrenness of the poles remains one of the most striking features of the distribution of life on earth — and one of the least well understood.
KeywordsSpecies Richness Coral Reef Species Diversity Extinction Rate Latitudinal Gradient
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