Biogeography is the scientific study of the distribution of living organisms across space and time, and the processes that shape this distribution. It is a multidisciplinary field that draws upon concepts and tools from biology, ecology, geography, geology, and other natural sciences to understand the complex relationships between organisms and their environment.
The study of biogeography seeks to identify the factors that contribute to the patterns of biodiversity that we see in different regions of the world. This includes examining the physical and climatic features of different regions, the historical and geological events that have shaped the landscape, and the interactions between species and their habitats.
One of the central goals of biogeography is to understand the factors that govern the distribution of species across the globe. This includes exploring the historical and evolutionary relationships between different species, and the role of factors such as migration, dispersal, and adaptation in shaping the distribution of life on Earth.
Another important area of study in biogeography is the ways in which human activities have influenced the distribution of living organisms. This includes the impact of habitat destruction, climate change, and the movement of species through trade and transport.
Overall, biogeography is a key field of study that helps us to better understand the complex relationships between living organisms and the natural world around them. By exploring the distribution of species and the processes that shape this distribution, biogeographers can help inform conservation efforts and protect biodiversity for future generations.
Definitions of Biogeography
Biogeography is the science of biological distribution patterns, and a discipline examining the characteristics of spatial and temporal occurrence of the earth’s organisms.
In the words of Dansereau, “Biogeography studies the origin, distribution, adaptation and association of plants and animals.”
According to Margaret Anderson
“Biogeography is the study of the biological relations between man, considered as an animal, and the whole of his animate and inanimate’ physical environment.
According to Lomolino, Riddle, and Whittaker (2017)
“Biogeography is the study of the distribution of organisms, both past and present, and the processes that result in this distribution.”
According to Ricklefs and Relyea (2014)
“Biogeography is the science that seeks to explain patterns of biological diversity and diversification over time and space.”
According to Cox and Moore (2010)
“Biogeography is the study of the distributions and interactions of living organisms through time and space. The field unites perspectives and methods from diverse areas of science, including ecology, geology, climatology, oceanography, evolutionary biology, and molecular biology.”
According to Malanson (2009)
“Biogeography is the scientific study of the patterns and processes that determine the distribution of living organisms across the Earth’s surface.”
According to Briggs and Walters (1997)
“Biogeography is concerned with the distribution of organisms on the Earth’s surface, both at present and in the past, and the processes that have resulted in these distributions.”
Concept of Biogeography
Biogeography is a scientific discipline that aims to understand the patterns and processes of the distribution of living organisms across space and time. It is a multi-disciplinary field that combines concepts and methods from biology, ecology, geography, geology, and other natural sciences.
At its core, biogeography seeks to answer questions about why certain organisms occur in certain places and not in others. By examining the distribution of species, biogeographers can identify patterns and relationships that provide insights into the underlying processes that govern the diversity of life on Earth.
One important concept in biogeography is the idea of biotic regions or biomes. These are large geographic areas with similar climate and ecological conditions that support similar vegetation and animal communities. Biomes can be further subdivided into smaller ecoregions, which are more specific to a particular geography and have unique species assemblages.
Another important concept in biogeography is the role of historical events in shaping the distribution of life on Earth. This includes the effects of plate tectonics, past climate changes, and the movement of species over time. Biogeographers also study the influence of human activities, such as habitat destruction and species introductions, on the distribution of organisms.
The study of the Biosphere is called Biogeography, which indicates the consideration of the physical environment, soil, animals, and plants. Its field of study is the biologically part of the Lithosphere, Atmosphere, and Hydrosphere, as it has become known as Biosphere.
Biogeography is the science of biological distribution patterns, and a discipline examining the characteristics of spatial and temporal occurrence of the earth’s organisms. Biogeographers also focus on the nature of the relationship between humans and organisms, although such an approach is not their sole preserve.
Biogeography is the geography of organic life, the study of the spatial distribution of animate nature, including both plants and animals, and the processes that produce variations in the patterns of distribution. This branch of geography is concerned with the multitudinous forms of plant and animal life which inhabit the densely populated zone over the earth’s surface, as well as the complex biological activities which are controlled by the natural environment.
Biogeography forms an important link between the disciplines of geography and ecology, the ecosystem providing the fundamental integrating concept for the scientific study of many aspects of the man-environment complex.
Geography itself has been variously defined as the study of areal distributions, spatial patterns, locational analysis, man-earth relationships, and the environmental relationships of man. Biogeography, in a similar way, encompasses all these aspects of study in relation to living beings with an emphasis on man’s relations. Thus this branch of geography studies all biotic things consisting of the earth’s environment with respect to man. Its study, therefore, involves the evaluation of distribution areas of biota which necessitates the deciphering of information available from propagation areas concerning the ecological potential, genetic viability, the phylogeny of biotic communities as well as the spatially and temporally varying behavior of environmental factors.
As the name suggests, there are two components to this form of natural science. The biological component entails that its objects of the study are biological entities, from species up through higher orders of taxonomic classification. The geographical component embodies the identification of distributional patterns and the search for an explanation as to the factors that underline them. Depending on the level of taxonomy in question and the spatial scale of interest, there may be a strong degree of overlap between biogeography and ecology, since ecologists are also interested in organism distributions.
The interdisciplinary science of biogeography has several elements, which tend to distinguish it from ecology, however, especially its focus on generally larger scale spatial distributions [commonly regional, continental, or even global] and also its frequent concern with higher taxonomic orders such as families. A further distinguishing factor is a biogeographical interest in evolutionary development over time and the dynamics of distribution patterns. Biogeographers also focus on the nature of the relationship between humans and organisms, although such an approach is not their sole preserve.
Most of the development of biogeography began at the beginning of the present century. Nevertheless, its roots go back to the work of scholars like Humboldt, Ritter, Strabo, Ritchthopen, and other contemporary geographers. Dr. Newbigin’s’ publication on” Plant and
Animal Geography” pioneered the study of biogeography. Advances in biogeography were further achieved by geographers, geologists, biologists, and ecologists. After the death of Newbigin, biogeography remained a stagnant subject. It was also due to a lack of techniques and methods for the advancement of the subject.
Biogeography can be divided into several subcategories, including:
- Historical biogeography: This subcategory of biogeography seeks to understand the historical processes that have influenced the distribution of species. This includes the role of plate tectonics, past climate change, and the movement of species over time.
- Ecological biogeography: This subcategory of biogeography focuses on the relationships between living organisms and their environment. It seeks to understand the factors that influence the distribution of species based on their ecological requirements and interactions.
- Island biogeography: This subcategory of biogeography focuses on the study of species distribution patterns on islands. Because islands often have unique biotas, they provide a natural laboratory for studying the factors that influence the distribution of species.
- Macroecology: This subcategory of biogeography examines large-scale patterns of biodiversity and seeks to understand the factors that drive these patterns. This includes exploring the relationship between biodiversity and environmental factors such as temperature, rainfall, and elevation.
- Biogeography of invasions: This subcategory of biogeography focuses on the study of species introductions and their impacts on ecosystems. It seeks to understand the factors that contribute to successful invasions, as well as the ecological and economic impacts of invasive species.
- Conservation biogeography: This subcategory of biogeography seeks to apply the principles of biogeography to the conservation and management of biodiversity. It focuses on identifying areas of high species diversity and the factors that threaten these areas, and developing strategies to protect them.
- Phytogeography: describes the distribution of plants across Earth. Two factors are primarily analyzed when determining plant distribution. One is the inherent characteristics of the species, such as pollination method, seed-dispersal method, and resilience. The second factor is geographic, including climatic data such as temperature, rainfall, and barrier data, such as how landforms allow or block the migration or dispersal of species).
- Zoogeography: describes the distribution of animals across Earth. Like plants, biogeographers explore how climatic and geographic changes impact animal species, specifically continental drift. The resources available to animal species are also an important factor in zoogeography, as animals must eat to survive, and the presence of food sources can be an important part of the puzzle.
These subcategories are not mutually exclusive and are often studied in combination with one another. Biogeographers may use a range of techniques and methods from different subcategories to better understand the distribution of species across space and time.