Long-distance dispersal: a framework for hypothesis testing

Trends Ecol Evol. 2012 Jan;27(1):47-56. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2011.08.009. Epub 2011 Oct 17.


Tests of hypotheses about the biogeographical consequences of long-distance dispersal have long eluded biologists, largely because of the rarity and presumed unpredictability of such events. Here, we examine data for terrestrial (including littoral) organisms in the Pacific to show that knowledge of dispersal by wind, birds and oceanic drift or rafting, coupled with information about the natural environment and biology of the organisms, can be used to generate broad biogeographic predictions. We then examine the predictions in the context of the origin, frequency of arrival and location of establishment of dispersed organisms, as well as subsequent patterns of endemism and diversification on remote islands. The predicted patterns are being increasingly supported by phylogenetic data for both terrestrial and littoral organisms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Biodiversity
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Phylogeny