Deep-sea biogeography: The way forward
George D.F. (Buz) Wilson, Ph.D.
October 11, 2002
12:00 p.m. – Pacific Forum
of organismal distributions in the deep sea often use ecological concepts
and avoid the evolutionary processes that generated the biodiversity of
this vast and continuous ecosystem. Background knowledge and assumptions
influence both ecology and systematics in evaluating abyssal biodiversity.
For example, isopod species in the manganese nodule-covered abyssal hills
of the central Pacific change rapidly with distance, while polychaete
species change much more slowly. Are these results caused by differing
evolutionary tendencies in the taxa or by differing abilities to identify
terminal taxa or species? Once species units are established, or at least
accepted, understanding their distribution is the next step. Empirical
cladistic methods can assist the understanding of processes that generate
the diversity seen in the deep sea. Data from deep-sea isopods in the
North Atlantic suggest that analysis of historical patterns of
distribution might be tractable. This analysis is preliminary. Cladograms
and distributions from different taxa are needed to assess congruence that
might uncover the historical patterns.
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