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7 - Geographical distributions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 December 2009

John C. Avise
Affiliation:
University of California, Irvine
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Summary

Geography is another “trait” that can be subjected to PCM. In this case, the geographical arrangements of species (i.e. their character states with respect to space) are plotted onto species' phylogenies as estimated from molecular or other genetic data. The usual intent is to reciprocally illuminate the geological histories of landforms (or bodies of water) and the evolutionary histories of organismal lineages that have inhabited those areas. For example, about three million years ago the Isthmus of Panama gradually emerged above sea level, creating a land bridge that facilitated movements of terrestrial organisms between North and South America and effectively blocking genetic interchanges between marine populations in the tropical Atlantic versus Pacific Oceans. The phylogenetic impacts of this geophysical event can be studied today by comparing molecular patterns among living species in that part of the world.

Strictly speaking, geographic features do not evolve (only biological entities do), but they certainly change through time in response to geological and other physical forces of the planet, and they certainly can leave major evolutionary genetic footprints on conspecific populations, closely related species, and broader taxonomic groups. Furthermore, the evolutionary pathways marked by these phylogenetic footprints often lead researchers to new discoveries about cryptic species or otherwise unrecognized biodiversity hotspots that can be highly important in conservation efforts.

Afrotheria theory

For several decades, geologists have known that continents drift about the surface of the planet, sometimes moving apart and sometimes colliding with one another like bumper cars in a circular arena.

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Evolutionary Pathways in Nature
A Phylogenetic Approach
, pp. 190 - 220
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2006

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  • Geographical distributions
  • John C. Avise, University of California, Irvine
  • Book: Evolutionary Pathways in Nature
  • Online publication: 18 December 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511606939.008
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  • Geographical distributions
  • John C. Avise, University of California, Irvine
  • Book: Evolutionary Pathways in Nature
  • Online publication: 18 December 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511606939.008
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Geographical distributions
  • John C. Avise, University of California, Irvine
  • Book: Evolutionary Pathways in Nature
  • Online publication: 18 December 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511606939.008
Available formats
×