Publisher: Sinauer Date of Publication: 2005
Price: ISBN: 0 87893 478 2
Pages: xi + 436 Format: Paperback

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1 - Cenozoic and Mesozoic paleogeography; 2 - Arid lands paleobiogeography; 3 - Quaternary biogeography; 4 - Biogeography on a dynamic earth; 5 - The past and future roles of phylogeography in historical biogeography; 6 - Range expansion, extinction and biogeographic congruence; 7 - Reticulations in historical biogeography; 8 - Beyond species richness; 9 - The global diversity gradient; 10 - Diversity emerging; 11 - Dynamic hypotheses of richness on islands and continents; 12 - Island life; 13 - A marine center of origin; 14 - Pattern and process in marine biogeography; 15 - How do biological invasions alter diversity patterns?; 16 - GIS-based predictive biogeography in the context of conservation; 17 - Applying species-rich area relationships to the conservation of species diversity; 18 - Conservation biogeography in oceanic archipelagoes.



From being a relatively quiet area of geography, biogeography has developed rapidly over the past 15 years. Much of this is due to the use to which this subject can be put and the increase in interest in global human impact and its implications. It's also true to say that the subject itself has developed with a wider range of techniques available and with new methods being added regularly. This text is an attempt, by two leading authorities in the field, to sum up the key changes and highlight future developments.

The 18 contributions to this edition are grouped into five parts. The first part looks at paleobiogeography - the use of biogeographic concepts in areas previously considered to be geological. Much of the change in perspective must lie with the use of reconstructions of past conditions and especially the work of the first author, Scotese, in re-creating global maps that show the changing distribution of continents under plate tectonics. This contrasts with the second chapter which focusses on a more narrow range of times and environments and shows how fossil middens can be used to reconstruct events. Chapter three considers how we can reconstruct global but recent environments from the Quaternary especially as clues we might obtain can be of use in a "greenhouse" world. Finally, we get the examine the advances in cladistics and the value that such analysis can have on our understanding of species development. Part two looks at phylogeography and diversification. This is the fundamental question of the subject - why is that species located where it is. It is clear in the first chapter of this section that there are some very vigorous debates not least between cladistics (as outlined previously) and phylogenetic approaches - the former looking at reasons for separation of species and the latter examining the development of species lines. A useful examination of citation indices shows that phylogeography is proceeding apace although we cannot ignore other areas. Chapter six takes a different perspective - that of the use of extinction patterns as part of the record and the need to use the fossil record and other geological ideas to understand how modern distributions developed. A final chapter in this part examines a range of ideas but backs the need for a new synthesis in the subject. Part three studies diversity gradients. One of the most recent key parts of this was the 'island biogeography' theory which started to put the changes in species patterns into some context. One key idea, as chapter 8 points out, is that diversity is a seemingly simple but actually very difficult term to use. There's more than one measure and families do not always seem to follow the same pattern. Chapter nine tackles the old question of species number versus latitude and, despite examining the evidence, still seems to note the primacy of climate as a key explanator but not without some qualification. This is followed in turn by one of the more theoretical chapters in the text - the need to examine (deconstruct) the notion of species richness to see what is behind this. Although this might be seen as unusual it does highlight a number of interesting points not least the heterogeneity of responses. A final chapter argues the case for the development of dynamic models. Part four looks at marine biogeography. This has been less well developed than terrestrial biogeography partly because of the problems of fieldwork but new techniques have opened up this area. Chapter 12 looks at island theory from the point of view of life around the edges of the island - sea rather than land. Chapter 13 discusses whether we can have a marine center of origin in the way the 'out of Africa' hypothesis is developing at present. The argument is that the E Indies triangle may well be pivotal for marine biogeography. Finally we move to conservation biogeography. This area has seen rapid development as we consider both the fate of zoo populations and the need to maintain genetic diversity in a shrinking natural habitat. Chapter 15 focusses not on the endemics but on the impact of invasives on the indigenous population. Chapter 16 is one of the few pure method chapters in the text when it looks at the work that Geographic Information Systems (GIS) can bring to biogeography. Much has been said about the species-area relationship and its impact in conservation. However, as chapter 17 makes clear, such relationships are not without problems and it is important to mix it with other emerging techniques. Finally, there's a look at the ways in we need to research further to protect important species-rich areas in island archipelagoes.

This is a key text in the development of biogeography. It is a rich examination of both existing strands of the subject and also a pointer as to how the subject might usefully develop. That is has contributions from leading workers in the field adds to its message. Despite the value of the message this is not really a text for beginners. It requires considerable background knowledge of biogeography and a passing overview with the entire field would be of use. That being said, amongst its key audience of undergraduate/graduate workers it deserves to be seen as one the the key texts in the field.


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