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Helgoland Marine Research

Open Access

A critique of traditional approaches to seaweed distribution in light of the development of vicariance biogeography

  • David Garbary1
Helgoländer Meeresuntersuchungen41:BF02366189


An overview of the primary approaches to seaweed biogeography is provided in light of the development of vicariance biogeography. Each approach is discussed with particular regard to the extent to which the methods and objectives are compatible with vicariance. Ecological biogeography is considered an offshoot of ecology and physiology and is more appropriate in determining current distributions of organisms and aspects of physiological ecology rather than the speciation history of monophyletic groups. The R/P quotient of Feldmann and distribution of algal life-forms do not fall within the aegis of vicariance and are considered useful only in a descriptive sense. The examination of seaweed spans propounded by Pielou is considered flawed because of the lack of dependence on monophyletic groups. The floristic school of analysis of many seaweed biogeographers is analagous to the panbiogeography of Croizat, and provides the basis for the more concrete phylogenetic hypotheses that are the basis for vicariance analysis. The latter is considered the best methodology for studying the relationship between patterns of cladogenesis and the distribution of constituent taxa.