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.