Biogeography and evolution of the Galapagos: integration of the biological and geological evidence

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Abstract

Biogeographic tracks are mapped for Galapagos endemics representing 25 plant and animal taxa and including organisms with good and poor means of dispersal. These patterns confirm standard biogeographic tracks linking Galapagos with Central America, western North and South America, the Caribbean, Asia and Australasia. Discovery of the Galapagos Gore in the 1970s corroborates the biogeographic prediction for a major tectonic centre associated with the Galapagos. The biogeographic model developed by Croizat in 1958 of Galapagos colonization involving an ancestral biota inhabiting eastern Pacific geosynclinal forelands is congruent with plate tectonic models supporting a Pacific island arc origin for western American terranes. American relatives of Galapagos endemics may have originated within an eastern Pacific paleogeography rather than representing centres of origin for dispersal to the Galapagos. Galapagos colonization by an eastern Pacific biota between late Cretaceous and mid-Tertiary has significant implications for understanding the tempo and mode for both the origins of island biota and general models of evolutionary differentiation. Popular assertions that overwater dispersal represents the only viable origin for the entire Galapagos biota is no longer biogeographically or geologically tenable.

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