The short-term interactions within a habitat and species of organisms describe the ecological application of biogeography. Historical biogeography describes the long-term, evolutionary periods of time for broader classifications of organisms.
Early scientists, beginning with Carl Linnaeus, contributed to the development of biogeography as a science. The patterns of species distribution across geographical areas can usually be explained through a combination of historical factors such as: speciation, extinction, continental drift, and glaciation.
Additionally, this science considers the geographic constraints of landmass areas and isolation, as well as the available ecosystem energy supplies. Over periods of ecological changes, biogeography includes the study of plant and animal species in: their past and/or present living Refugio habitat ; their interim living sites; and/or their survival locales.
As writer David Summer put it, “... biogeography does more than ask Which species? Modern biogeography often employs the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS), to understand the factors affecting organism distribution, and to predict future trends in organism distribution.
Often mathematical models and GIS are employed to solve ecological problems that have a spatial aspect to them. These habitats are often much more manageable areas of study because they are more condensed than larger ecosystems on the mainland.
They can then apply their understanding to similar but more complex mainland habitats. Islands are very diverse in their biomes, ranging from the tropical to arctic climates.
This diversity in habitat allows for a wide range of species study in different parts of the world. One scientist who recognized the importance of these geographic locations was Charles Darwin, who remarked in his journal “The Zoology of Archipelagos will be well worth examination”.
Two chapters in On the Origin of Species were devoted to geographical distribution. The first discoveries that contributed to the development of biogeography as a science began in the mid-18th century, as Europeans explored the world and described the biodiversity of life.
During the 18th century most views on the world were shaped around religion and for many natural theologists, the bible. Carl Linnaeus, in the mid-18th century, initiated the ways to classify organisms through his exploration of undiscovered territories.
When he noticed that species were not as perpetual as he believed, he developed the Mountain Explanation to explain the distribution of biodiversity; when Noah's ark landed on Mount Ararat and the waters receded, the animals dispersed throughout different elevations on the mountain. Through his strong beliefs in Christianity, he was inspired to classify the living world, which then gave way to additional accounts of secular views on geographical distribution.
He argued that the structure of an animal was very closely related to its physical surroundings. This was important to a George Louis Buffoon's rival theory of distribution.
Closely after Linnaeus, Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon observed shifts in climate and how species spread across the globe as a result. Buffoon saw similarities between some regions which led him to believe that at one point continents were connected and then water separated them and caused differences in species.
His hypotheses were described in his work, the 36 volume History Naturally, general ET particular, in which he argued that varying geographical regions would have different forms of life. This was inspired by his observations comparing the Old and New World, as he determined distinct variations of species from the two regions.
Buffoon believed there was a single species creation event, and that different regions of the world were homes for varying species, which is an alternate view than that of Linnaeus. Buffoon's law eventually became a principle of biogeography by explaining how similar environments were habitats for comparable types of organisms.
Buffoon also studied fossils which led him to believe that the earth was over tens of thousands of years old, and that humans had not lived there long in comparison to the age of the earth. Following the period of exploration came the Age of Enlightenment in Europe, which attempted to explain the patterns of biodiversity observed by Buffoon and Linnaeus.
At the birth of the 19th century, Alexander von Humboldt, known as the “founder of plant geography”, developed the concept of physique general to demonstrate the unity of science and how species fit together. As one of the first to contribute empirical data to the science of biogeography through his travel as an explorer, he observed differences in climate and vegetation.
This ultimately enabled him to create the isotherm, which allowed scientists to see patterns of life within different climates. He contributed his observations to findings of botanical geography by previous scientists, and sketched this description of both the biotic and abiotic features of the earth in his book, Cosmos.
Augustin de Candolle contributed to the field of biogeography as he observed species competition and the several differences that influenced the discovery of the diversity of life. He was a Swiss botanist and created the first Laws of Botanical Nomenclature in his work, Prodromal.
He discussed plant distribution and his theories eventually had a great impact on Charles Darwin, who was inspired to consider species adaptations and evolution after learning about botanical geography. De Candle was the first to describe the differences between the small-scale and large-scale distribution patterns of organisms around the globe.
Several additional scientists contributed new theories to further develop the concept of biogeography. Charles Lyell developed the Theory of Uniformitarianism after studying fossils.
Uniformitarianism also introduced the idea that the Earth was actually significantly older than was previously accepted. This largely influenced Charles Darwin in his development of the theory of evolution.
Charles Darwin was a natural theologist who studied around the world, and most importantly in the Galápagos Islands. His contributions to biogeography and the theory of evolution were different from those of other explorers of his time, because he developed a mechanism to describe the ways that species changed.
His influential ideas include the development of theories regarding the struggle for existence and natural selection. Darwin's theories started a biological segment to biogeography and empirical studies, which enabled future scientists to develop ideas about the geographical distribution of organisms around the globe.
Alfred Russel Wallace studied the distribution of flora and fauna in the Amazon Basin and the Malay Archipelago in the mid-19th century. Wallace conducted fieldwork researching the habits, breeding and migration tendencies, and feeding behavior of thousands of species.
He studied butterfly and bird distributions in comparison to the presence or absence of geographical barriers. His observations led him to conclude that the number of organisms present in a community was dependent on the amount of food resources in the particular habitat.
Wallace believed species were dynamic by responding to biotic and abiotic factors. He and Philip Slater saw biogeography as a source of support for the theory of evolution as they used Darwin's conclusion to explain how biogeography was similar to a record of species inheritance.
Key findings, such as the sharp difference in fauna either side of the Wallace Line, and the sharp difference that existed between North and South America prior to their relatively recent fauna interchange, can only be understood in this light. Schematic distribution of fossils on Pangaea according to Wegener Distribution of four Permian and Triassic fossil groups used as biogeographic evidence for continental drift, and land bridgingMoving on to the 20th century, Alfred Wegener introduced the Theory of Continental Drift in 1912, though it was not widely accepted until the 1960s.
This theory was revolutionary because it changed the way that everyone thought about species and their distribution around the globe. The theory explained how continents were formerly joined together in one large landmass, Pangaea, and slowly drifted apart due to the movement of the plates below Earth's surface.
The evidence for this theory is in the geological similarities between varying locations around the globe, fossil comparisons from different continents, and the jigsaw puzzle shape of the landmasses on Earth. Though Wegener did not know the mechanism of this concept of Continental Drift, this contribution to the study of biogeography was significant in the way that it shed light on the importance of environmental and geographic similarities or differences as a result of climate and other pressures on the planet.
Importantly, late in his career Wegener recognized that testing his theory required measurement of continental movement rather than inference from fossils species distributions. Classic biogeography has been expanded by the development of molecular systematic, creating a new discipline known as paleogeography.
This development allowed scientists to test theories about the origin and dispersal of populations, such as island endemics. For example, while classic biogeographers were able to speculate about the origins of species in the Hawaiian Islands, paleogeography allows them to test theories of relatedness between these populations and putative source populations in Asia and North America.
Biogeography continues as a point of study for many life sciences and geography students worldwide, however it may be under different broader titles within institutions such as ecology or evolutionary biology. In recent years, one of the most important and consequential developments in biogeography has been to show how multiple organisms, including mammals like monkeys and reptiles like lizards, overcame barriers such as large oceans that many biogeographers formerly believed were impossible to cross.
Biogeographic regions of Europe Biogeography now incorporates many fields including but not limited to physical geography, geology, botany and plant biology, zoology, general biology, and modelling. Biogeography is being applied to biodiversity conservation and planning, projecting global environmental changes on species and biomes, projecting the spread of infectious diseases, invasive species, and for supporting planning for the establishment of crops.
Technological evolving and advances have allowed for generating a whole suit of predictor variables for biogeographic analysis, including satellite imaging and processing of the Earth. Two main types of satellite imaging that are important within modern biogeography are Global Production Efficiency Model (GLOBE) and Geographic Information Systems (GIS).
GLOBE uses satellite-imaging gives “repetitive, spatially contiguous, and time specific observations of vegetation”. Paleogeography goes one step further to include paleo geographic data and considerations of plate tectonics.
Not knowing that at the time of dispersal, the Indian Ocean was much narrower than it is today, and that South America was closer to the Antarctic, one would be hard-pressed to explain the presence of many “ancient” lineages of perching birds in Africa, as well as the mainly South American distribution of the submarines. Paleogeography also helps constrain hypotheses on the timing of biogeographic events such as variance and dispersal, and provides unique information on the formation of regional iotas.
For example, data from species-level phylogenetic and biogeographic studies tell us that the Amazonian fish fauna accumulated in increments over a period of tens of millions of years, principally by means of allopatric speciation, and in an arena extending over most of the area of tropical South America (Albert & Was 2011). In other words, unlike some well-known insular faunas (Galápagos finches, Hawaiian drosophila flies, African rift lake cichlids), the species-rich Amazonian ichthyosaur is not the result of recent adaptive radiations.
For freshwater organisms, landscapes are divided naturally into discrete drainage basins by watersheds, episodically isolated and reunited by erosional processes. In such a context, stream capture is an important factor affecting the evolution and distribution of freshwater organisms.
The study of comparative biogeography can follow two main lines of investigation: Systematic biogeography, the study of biotic area relationships, their distribution, and hierarchical classification Evolutionary biogeography, the proposal of evolutionary mechanisms responsible for organismal distributions.
Possible mechanisms include widespread taxa disrupted by continental break-up or individual episodes of long-distance movement. There are many types of biogeographic units used in biogeographic regionalization schemes, as there are many criteria (species composition, physiognomy, ecological aspects) and hierarchization schemes: biogeographic realms (or colones), bioregions (sense strict), bioregions, zoo geographical regions, logistic regions, vegetation types, biomes, etc.
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