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Scarab Central
Biogeographic Theory and Analysis
Presented by: Dr. Jorge Crisci, Museo de La Plata, Argentina
at University of Nebraska, Lincoln
May 13-17, 2002


"The definition of biogeography may be simple–the study of the geographical distributions of organisms–but this simplicity hides the great complexity of the subject. Biogeography transcends classical subject areas, it involves a range of scientific disciplines that includes geography, geology and biology. No one who studies biogeography can fail to be impressed, or perplexed, by the diversity of approaches to the subject."

–J.V. Crisci. 2001. The voice of historical biogeography. Journal of Biogeography 28:157-168.
Biogeography Workshop logo

As Dr. Jorge Crisci so aptly stated in his 2001 keynote paper in the Journal of Biogeography, the study of biogeography is in the midst of an extraordinary revolution. In part, this revolution is due to breakthroughs in computer technology that allow us to interpret distributional data. In part, it is also due to our growing understanding of organisms (extant and extinct), geology, cladistics, and molecular systematics. Yet in the midst of the revolution is a confounding problem. In order to advance the science of biogeography, Crisci tells us that we must unite to build a common language and common methods that encompass all aspects of comparative biology from molecular systematics and parasitology to plate tectonics and biogeography. We need these tools in order to advance biogeography, to break the mold, and to create a paradigm shift in the science of biogeography.

The workshop on "Biogeographic Theory and Analysis" was presented by Dr. Jorge Crisci (Museo de La Plata, Argentina) and Federico Ocampo (University of Nebraska) from 13-17 May 2002 at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Crisci and Ocampo invested an enormous amount of time, energy, and knowledge into creating a marvelous workshop on historical biogeography, theory, and methods. Crisci synthesized biogeographic theory, placed the science of biogeography in a historical context, and stressed the importance of uniting macroevolution and microevolution in biogeography and systematics. Crisci will be remembered for his outstanding teaching skills, command of a difficult topic, passion and enthusiasm for biogeography, and the magic that he seemed to sprinkle in the classroom. Crisci and Ocampo discussed the importance of studying biogeography in evolution and conservation, pitfalls of current methods, and fundamentals of the discipline. The workshop produced novel ideas in biogeographic theory and methods. It is Crisci's hope that the workshop helped to plant the seed of knowledge that will propel the science of biogeography to a higher level of understanding.

Federico Ocampo and
Dr. Jorge Crisci led the workshop on "Biogeographic Theory and Analysis" at the University of Nebraska.

(Click here to see Crisci's plaque with signatures of all participants.)

During the course of the workshop, participants learned:

1) The principles, impact, and history of historical biogeography and its contribution to comparative biology
2) To critically interpret and evaluate biogeographic methods
3) How to choose the best method for the question at hand and how to collect appropriate data to address this question
4) How to use computer-assisted algorithms (PAE, BPA, track analysis, DIVA) to analyze data

Lectures included the following topics (down-loadable video segments will be available soon):

1) Historical biogeography: definition, concepts, spatial analysis, taxonomy of methods
2) Areas of endemism
3) Center of origin and dispersal
4) Panbiogeography: track analysis and track compatibility
5) Phylogenetic biogeography
6) Ancestral areas
7) Cladistic biogeography: construction of area cladograms, general area cladograms, component analysis, Brooks Parsimony Analysis (BPA), paralogy-free subtrees, integrative methods
8) Parsimony Analysis of Endemicity (PAE): PAE based on localities, areas of endemism, and quadrats
9) Event-based methods: reconciled trees or Maximum Co-speciation (MC); Dispersal-Vicariance Analysis (DIVA)
10) Phylogeography
11) Comparison of biogeographic methods
12) Molecules in space-time: molecular phylogenies in biogeography, molecular clock
13) Biogeography, biodiversity, and conservation
14) Summary of the workshop
15) Future of biogeography: a conceptual framework

Ocampo lead participants in the hands-on laboratory during the workshop. The laboratory exercises included computer-aided analyses, analyses by hand, and discussions of the following methods:

1) Parsimony Analysis of Endemicity (PAE) based on quadrats
2) Track analysis (panbiogeography)


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University of Nebraska State Museum
Division of Entomology
307 Morrill Hall
Lincoln, NE 68588-0338
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