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31 March 2015 Biogeography by revelation: investigating a world shaped by miracles
Michael Heads
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This article reviews the methods of biogeographic analysis in current use, as summarised by Alan de Queiroz, 2014 (The Monkey’s Voyage, Basic Books, New York). The methods rely on molecular clock dates (the weakest part of molecular research) rather than analysis of the distributions of clades defined in phylogenies (the strongest part of the research). One of the main findings of the molecular work is the unexpected, high levels of geographic structure in clades, especially allopatry. The modern synthesis and many molecular clock studies suggest that allopatric speciation is caused by founder dispersal, whereas panbiogeography attributes it to vicariance. De Queiroz and many modern studies have accepted that panbiogeography ignores critical evidence, and that vicariance theory was dominant in the 1970s–1990s, but has since declined. Closer examination shows that these claims are incorrect. Other popular misconceptions include the ideas that fossils and fossil-calibrated molecular clocks provide maximum possible ages of clades, that vicariance theory rejects the fossil record and molecular clock dates, that DNA sequences ‘reveal’ long-distance dispersal, that distribution is chaotic, and that chance dispersal can generate repeated patterns. The conclusions of modern island biogeography, as discussed in detail by de Queiroz, are reviewed here for the following islands: São Tomé and Príncipe in the Gulf of Guinea, Madagascar, the Seychelles, New Zealand, the Chatham Islands off mainland New Zealand, New Caledonia, Norfolk Island, the Hawaiian Islands, the Falkland Islands and Fernando de Noronha off Brazil. Biogeographic analyses of particular groups are illustrated here with respect to ratite birds and primates. Finally, modern methods of ancestral-area analysis are reviewed. These make the unjustified assumption that the location of a basal paraphyletic grade represents a centre of origin.

© CSIRO 2014
Michael Heads "Biogeography by revelation: investigating a world shaped by miracles," Australian Systematic Botany 27(4), 282-304, (31 March 2015).
Received: 19 October 2014; Accepted: 1 December 2014; Published: 31 March 2015

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