The role of molecular genetics in sculpting the future of integrative biogeography


Journal Article (Review)

We review the expanding role of molecular genetics in the emergence of a vibrant and vital integrative biogeography. The enormous growth over the past several decades in the number and variety of molecular-based phylogenetic and population genetics studies has become the core information used by biogeographers to reconstruct the causal connections between historical evolutionary and ecological attributes of taxa and biotas, and the landscapes and seascapes that contain them. A proliferation of different approaches, sequences, and genomes have provided for the integration of a 'biogeography of the Late Neogene' with other Earth and biological sciences under the rubrics of phylogeography, landscape genetics, and phylochronology. Approaches designed explicitly to take advantage of unique properties of molecular genetic information have led to the re-emergence of dispersal as an analytically tractable process that historical biogeographers can now use, along with vicariance, to reconstruct the geographical context of diversification. Concomitant with the expanding amount of information available, molecular data sets often provide for estimates of lineage divergence dates, and analytical tools for doing so continue to improve. The comparability of molecular-based estimates of phylogenetic and population genetic histories across non-related taxa has stimulated deployment of new methods to test for spatial and temporal congruence across co-distributed taxa and ecosystems, and thus increased rigour in hypothesis-testing. We illustrate how a molecular genetics framework has provided robust and novel reconstructions of historical biogeographical pattern and process in three different systems, and finish with some thoughts on the role a molecular genetic-based biogeography will play in predicting alternative futures of biodiversity. © 2008 SAGE Publications.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Riddle, B; Dawson, MN; Hadly, EA; Hafner, DJ; Hickerson, MJ; Mantooth, SJ; Yoder, AD

Published Date

  • November 7, 2008

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 32 / 2

Start / End Page

  • 173 - 202

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0309-1333

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/0309133308093822

Citation Source

  • Scopus