Unifying Theory and Methodology in Biogeography

  • Bruce S. Lieberman
Part of the Evolutionary Biology book series (EBIO, volume 33)


Biogeography is a discipline with a long intellectual heritage (Brown and Lomolino, 1998; Browne, 1983; Mayr, 1982; Nelson, 1978) that considers where and why different types of organisms occur over the face of the globe. Almost since its inception, there has been a fundamental debate in the field about how to best explain biogeographic patterns. This debate has centered on two primary explanations. In the dispersalist or mobilist explanation, organisms were thought to have continually moved or dispersed between different regions such that similar types of organisms would be shared between regions due to episodes of dispersal. In the other, the vicariant or extensionist explanation, organisms start out with broad distributions. These distributions would then be subsequently fragmented by the emergence of geological or climatic barriers which concomitantly promote evolutionary divergence in the now isolated populations. In this explanation, it was held that similar types of organisms were shared between regions due to the fact that these regions had a common geological history.


Range Expansion Geographic Barrier Biogeographic Pattern Historical Biogeography Ancestral Area 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce S. Lieberman
    • 1
  1. 1.Departments of Geology and Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of KansasLawrenceUSA

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