Though biogeography may be simply defined--the study of the geographic distributions of organisms--the subject itself is extraordinarily complex, involving a range of scientific disciplines and a bewildering diversity of approaches. For convenience, biogeographers have recognized two research traditions: ecological biogeography and historical biogeography.
This book makes sense of the profound revolution that historical biogeography has undergone in the last two decades, and of the resulting confusion over its foundations, basic concepts, methods, and relationships to other disciplines of comparative biology. Using case studies, the authors explain and illustrate the fundamentals and the most frequently used methods of this discipline. They show the reader how to tell when a historical biogeographic approach is called for, how to decide what kind of data to collect, how to choose the best method for the problem at hand, how to perform the necessary calculations, how to choose and apply a computer program, and how to interpret results.
With a welcome shift to the Southern Hemisphere, Crisci, Katinas, and Posadas comprehensively explore the discipline of historical biogeography, distinguishing between, and linking, historical and ecological biogeography. They offer a nice introduction to the field, with chapters exploring various approaches to the subject such as phylogenetics, cladistics, and experimental biogeography...Overall, this is a very thorough, extensively researched, and well-written book.
The comparative study of biodiversity in form, space, and time is this book's main theme. Recent theoretical and empirical advances in phylogenetic systematics have produced numerous cladograms and phylogenetic trees that reveal the historical structure of species diversity. Likewise, geographic information systems provide unprecedented quantitative descriptions of species' geographic dimensions. Systematists face considerable challenges, however, in constructing a theoretical and analytical framework for combining phylogenetic and geographic information to provide causal explanations of life's evolutionary history...This book's major contribution is its explanation and examples of the analytical methods used to diagnose biologically meaningful areas and to reconstruct evolutionary relationships among those areas using comparisons of species cladograms. Many of the methods covered have not gained universal or even widespread acceptance by systematists and most remain strongly associated with individual researchers or institutions and largely dismissed or ignored by others. The authors' attention to detail in the historical development of these methods is therefore very helpful...Philosophers and historians of systematics should find much of interest in this exploration of the power of algorithms to synthesize evolution's spatial and temporal dimensions across microevolutionary and macroevolutionary time.
- 264 pages
- 7 x 9-1/4 inches
- Harvard University Press
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