Ancestral ranges and historical biogeography
Ree, Richard H. Department of Botany, Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago, Illinois.
- Processes of range evolution
- Incorporating fossils and abiotic information
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The Earth's biodiversity is not distributed evenly across its surface. To understand biogeographic patterns, it is necessary not only to consider current conditions (of climate, ecology, etc.), but also to view them in their historical context, as outcomes of both biotic (for example, speciation or adaptation) and abiotic (for example, geological) evolutionary processes. The field of historical biogeography is grounded in the principle that histories of Earth and life are intimately linked, such that knowledge about one may inform scientific inquiries about the other. One such line of inquiry is focused on unraveling the geographic history of species and their ancestors: where did species occur in the past, and how did biogeographic processes such as dispersal, extinction, and speciation cause their ranges to change over time (that is, evolve), giving rise to what we observe today? Recent developments of new statistical models for how geographic ranges evolve as species descend from common ancestors are allowing this question to be addressed with increasing sophistication.
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