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Last Update: February 11, 2008

Chapter 6 - Global patterns in biogeography.

New books and papers | Websites

Chapter Outline :

    • One of the most important aspects of biogeography is the way in which it can group organisms and habitats into meaningful patterns;
    • Patterns can occur at a variety of scales: it is often the case of some patterns ‘nesting’ within others;
    • Biomes and ecoregions are two key large-scale patterns whose distribution helps us to better understand ecological processes;
    • A range of interdependent ecological and environmental processes shape the patterns that we can observe;
    • A range of techniques can be employed to find, describe and analyse patterns. These techniques are increasing in sophistication but are still subject to limitations.


New books and papers
Author(s) Title (and link) Comment
Mittelbach et al 2007 Evolution and the latitudinal diversity gradient: speciation, extinction and biogeography How did latitudinal gradients arise? This paper looks at some of the competing theories and outlines some research for the future.
Bininda-Emonds et al 2007 The delayed rise of present-day mammals Using new ideas of phylogenetic trees, mammal evolution is seen as being farther back and not affected by the K-T events.
Stromberg 2007 Seasonal reversals of upland-riparian
diversity gradients in the Sonoran Desert
Gradients can be seen in temporal as well and geographic settings.
Poynton et al 2007 Amphibian diversity in East African biodiversity hotspots: altitudinal and latitudinal patterns Gradients are more complex than they seem with similar species reacting in different ways to a similar change of conditions.
Svenning and Skov 2007 Could the tree diversity pattern in Europe be generated by postglacial dispersal limitation? Yes! Climate as a control is hotly debated. This study suggests it does exert an influence on distribution.
Jenkins et al 2007 Does size matter for dispersal distance? Apparently, this depends on the method of dispersal especially for active, but not passive, dispersal. Such increase in complexity obviously affects studies such as island biogeography.
Willis et al 2007 Testing the impact of climate variability on European plant diversity: 320 000 years of water–energy dynamics and its long-term influence on plant
taxonomic richness
Energy and water dynamics can help explain the diversity ofplant species but the model is less predictive in times of considerable climatic change.
Qian and Ricklefs 2007 A latitudinal gradient in large-scale beta diversity for vascular plants in North America A large scale study of plant families in North America shows decline in diversity with increasing latitude in agreement with predictions.
Jaramillo et al 2006 Cenozoic Plant Diversity in the Neotropics Widespread study links changes in diversity to inferred temperature levels.
Huburt and Renno 2006 Historical biogeography of South
American freshwater fishes
Studies of fish show a far more complex set of interacting forces for dispersal and speciation.
Hemp 2006 Continuum or zonation? Altitudinal gradients in the forest vegetation
of Mt. Kilimanjaro
Demonstrates principal causes of vegetation change but also notes how studies nearby might have been influenced by methodology.
Hausdorf and Hennig 2006 Biogeographical tests of the vicariance model in Mediterranean land snails Studies of land snails in the Meditteranean suggest that speciation models other than vicariance were important contrary to expectations.
Sax, Gaines and Brown 2005 Species Invasions Exceed Extinctions on Islands Worldwide:
A Comparative Study of Plants and Birds. American Naturalist. 160(6). 766-783
The research suggests that species richness may vary between groups of organisms. Globaly it might be decreasing but sub-global results are more varied and suggest a need to research these scale more to see what the effect might be.
Kier et al 2005 Global patterns of plant diversity
and floristic knowledge
A paper outlining the first vascular plant map based on ecoregions and the implications of same.
Ayers and Waters 2005 Marine biogeographic disjunction in central New Zealand Studies of a sea-star highlight the impact of ocean upwellings in creating disjunctions.
Holtmeier and Broll 2005 Sensitivity and response of northern hemisphere altitudinal and polar treelines to environmental change at landscape and local scales A useful reminder that not all changes in vegetation pattern are due to 'climate change'. Using different scales, different responses can be seen to a range of factors.
Velland 2005 Species Diversity and Genetic Diversity: Parallel Processes and Correlated Patterns. American Naturalist 166(2) 199–215 An attempt to link and predict species and genetic diversity. The factors influencing both mean that it is unlikely to find a single common pattern linking the two.
Smith et al 2005. Phytoplankton species richness scales consistently from laboratory microcosms to the world’s oceans An interesting perspective on speices-area relationship which suggests that, for phytoplankton at least, it's scale independant.
Rohde and Muller 2005 Cycles in fossil diversity Diversity may be linked to an environmental cycle.
Kiessling 2005 Long-term relationships between
ecological stability and biodiversity
in Phanerozoic reefs
Stability is usually seen as a function of diversity but only over small time scales. This study shows it might hold over millions of years as well.
 Araujo et al 2005  Downscaling European species Atlas distributions to a finer resolution: implications for conservation planning  Scale is one of the old issues in biogeography. Here there's an attempt to match scale to problem to make sonservation more effective.
Velland 2004. Parallel effetcs of land use history on species diversity and genetic diversity of forest herbs.  This paper looks at the connections between species and genetic diversity with respect to land use history and landscape change.
Tice and Lowe 2004. Photosynthetic microbial mats
in the 3,416-Myr-old ocean
Evidence that life may have existed 3.5bn years ago.
Spichiger, Calenge and Bise. 2004 Geographical zonation in the Neotropics of tree species characteristic of the Paraguay-Parana´ Basin Uses a literature search to define key ecoregions in Paraguay.
Innes et al 2004 Earliest Holocene vegetation history and island biogeography of the Isle of Man, British Isles Uses radiocarbon methods to explain differences in vegetation between the isalnd and the mainland
Hausdorf and Hennig 2004 Does vicariance shape biotas?
Biogeographical tests of the vicariance model in the north-west European land snail fauna
Obvious vicariance patterns have been altered by subsequent post-speciational dispersal surroiunding glacial events
Wilf et al 2003 High Plant Diversity in Eocene
South America: Evidence from
Biodiversity has remained high in this area for at least the last 50 million years.
Velland 2003 Island Biogeography of Genes and Species. American Naturalist 162(3) 358–365 Author tries to make a link between species and genetic diversity arguing that cross-disciplinary research is need to appreciate the correlations found.

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