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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Frontiers of Biogeography

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Big data suggest migration and bioregion connectivity as crucial for the evolution of Neotropical biodiversity


Tropical America (the Neotropics) is the most biodiverse realm on Earth and might harbour more species than tropical Asia and Africa combined. The evolutionary history generating this outstanding diversity remains poorly understood partly because data on the geographic distribution of species is scarce. Collections from museums and herbaria can overcome this gap, but uncertain data quality hampers their use, especially in historical biogeography. Here, I highlight the results from recent studies quantifying diversification and bioregion connectivity in the Neotropics using large-scale species occurrence data, and argue that (i) recently developed software to analyse large-scale data provides a methodological route forward for biogeography, and (ii) biotic connectivity within and among bioregions is a common, but underappreciated, process in the evolution of Neotropical diversity.

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