The Botanical Review

, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 117–156 | Cite as

The biogeography of species, with special reference to ferns

  • Rolla Tryon


An important element of the biogeography of species is the geographic aspects of speciation. The geography of species has a role in the processes of speciation which have a reciprocal role in species geography.

The homosporous ferns provide an especially favorable group for biogeographic studies because nearly all species have an equivalent capacity for dispersal and migration. Species ranges are based on the ecology of the environment, rather than on animal vectors of dispersal or pollination. However, with allowance for these differences, the processes of geographic speciation are basically the same in ferns and other vascular plants, although often on a broader geographic scale in the ferns.

Speciation most frequently produces a new species with a small range, which can rapidly expand to occupy the geography of the environment to which the species is adapted. The members of a closely related speciesgroup retain their morphological and geographic relations for a relatively short time. With speciation, changes in distribution, and extinction, the original relations of the species and the biogeographical history of the group will be lost.

High regional species diversity occurs in the wet mountainous regions of the tropics, where there is greatest ecological diversity and maximal opportunities for speciation and persistence.


Botanical Review Dispersal Capacity Species Range Maxon Ecological Parameter 
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Los aspectos geogŕaficos de la especiación son elementos importantes en la biogeografía de las especies. La geografía de las especies juega un papel importante en los procesos de especiación, y éstos, a su vez, juegan un papel importante en la geografia de las especies.

Los helechos homósporos constituyen un grupo especialmente favorable para estudios biogeográficos ya que casi todas las especies tienen una capacidad de dispersíon y migración similar. Las distribuciones de las especies están más bien basadas en la ecologia del medio ambiente que en vectores animales para las dispersión o polinización. Sin embargo con la excepción de estas diferencias, los procesos de especiación geográfica en helechos y otras plantas vasculares son básicamente iguales, aunque algunas veces en los helechos ocurren sobre una escala geográfica más amplia.

Con mucha frecuencia el proceso de especiación produce un especie nueva con un área de distribución pequena, que rapidamente se expande para ocupar la geografia del medio ambiente a la cual la especie está adaptada. Los miembros de un complejo de especies relacionadas retienen sus relaciones morfológicas y geográficas por un tiempo relativimente corto. Con el proceso de especiación, los cambios en la distribución, y extinción, las relaciones originales de las especies y la historia biogeográfica del grupo se perderán.

Existe una alta diversidad de especies en los áreas tropicales más humedas y montañosas, donde la diversidad ecológica es más alta y los oportunidades para la especiación y persistencia son máximas.


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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rolla Tryon
    • 1
  1. 1.Harvard University HerbariaCambridge

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