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A comparison of a discovery-based and an event-based method of historical biogeography


Daniel R. Brooks Department of Zoology, Centre for Comparative Biology and Biodiversity, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3G5, Canada. E-mail:



The event-based method Dispersal-Vicariance Analysis (DIVA) is compared with the discovery-based method Brooks Parsimony analysis (BPA).


South-western USA, Mexico and northern Central America.


Results of DIVA of phylogenetic trees for six clades of birds inhabiting seven areas in the south-western US, Mexico and northern Central America are compared with those of BPA for the same data set.


Both approaches identify the same vicariant elements but differ in the way they treat dispersal. DIVA places such elements in one general ‘dispersal’ category, while BPA identifies different forms of dispersal, including peripheral isolates speciation (speciation by dispersal), post-speciation dispersal, non-response to a vicariance event, secondary contact between congeners (and the potential for reinforcement completing speciation) and potential extinction resulting from competition between a resident and a colonizing congener.

Main conclusions

BPA is more sensitive than DIVA with respect to the different possible manifestations of geographical dispersal. Despite substantial dispersal, avian communities in these areas manifest substantial historical structuring.

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