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Biogeographic Breaks in Vanuatu, a Nascent Oceanic Archipelago1 Alison M. Hamilton,2,3,6 Elaine R. Klein,4,5 and Christopher C. Austin2
 

Summary: 149
Biogeographic Breaks in Vanuatu, a Nascent Oceanic Archipelago1
Alison M. Hamilton,2,3,6 Elaine R. Klein,4,5 and Christopher C. Austin2
Abstract: The study of distinct biogeographic demarcations has played a pivotal
role in our understanding processes responsible for patterns of species distribu-
tions and, importantly, the role of geologic processes in promoting biotic diver-
sification. Biogeographic barriers such as Wallace's line have been shown to be
the result of old geologic processes shaping ancient faunal or floral diversi-
fication events. Based on distributions of birds, bats, reptiles, plants, and
invertebrates we identify a distinct biogeographic disjunction in Vanuatu, a geo-
logically nascent oceanic archipelago. We discuss mechanisms contributing to
this concordant pattern across these disparate taxonomic groups in light of geo-
logic history, ocean currents, vegetation, soil, and bioclimatic data, and propose
the name Cheesman's line to indicate the faunal and floral discontinuity be-
tween the northern and southern islands of Vanuatu.
The distribution of plants and animals
among the isolated, oceanic islands of the
tropical Pacific has been of interest to evolu-
tionary biologists for more than 150 yr
(Sclater 1858, Wallace 1860, 1876). Disconti-

  

Source: Austin, Christopher C. - Museum of Natural Science, Louisiana State University

 

Collections: Environmental Sciences and Ecology