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Biogeography and Community Analysis

  • Arthur J. Boucot (a1)


Interest in historical biogeography has risen tremendously since 1971. During the period 1971 to present there have been five important compilations of paleontologic information cast into an historical biogeographic framework (Gray and Boucot, 1979; Hallam, 1973; Hughes, 1973; Middlemiss, Rawson, and Newall, 1971; Ross, 1974). All of these volumes contain a certain amount of material dealing directly with brachiopod historical biogeography. More important, however, is the fact that all of them have a large number of papers devoted to shallow water, marine, benthic historical biogeography of organisms other than brachiopods, which provides a useful comparative background for future efforts in brachiopod historical biogeography. It is clear that efforts in historical biogeography are finally beginning to form a more routine part of the overall paleontologic effort. However, at the present time we still lack a really uniform, reasonably agreed upon, biogeographic framework for the Phanerozoic. This means that we have differing biogeographic terminologies for the basic units. There is no agreed upon definition of how to define the commonly used heirarchy, realm, region, province, subprovince–some prefer to do it with percentages of genera, some by considering families, still others by important presences or absences, or by mixtures of these approaches. One also quickly becomes aware of the fact that there is a confusing, commonly overlapping nomenclature applied to the same and different biogeographic units. For example, for much of Paleozoic time there is a Southern Hemisphere cold or cool water biogeographic unit termed Atlantic in the Cambrian, Atlantic, Mediterranean, Proto-Tethyan or Malvinokaffric in the Ordovician, Malvinokaffric in the Silurian and Devonian, and Gondwana in the Permian-Carboniferous. The warmer water units of the Paleozoic may also be considered in this time successive, confusing manner. It will probably be another decade or so before we have gained enough experience, by making all the conceivable types of mistakes, in the naming of Phanerozoic biogeographic units to enable us to come up with the most universally useful set of terms for the realms, regions, provinces and subprovinces. The fact that some realms begin their history as subprovinces and then “evolve” into realms further complicates the issue. The fact that some biogeographic units become extinct must also be considered.


Biogeography and Community Analysis

  • Arthur J. Boucot (a1)


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