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As the Amazon rainforest burns, the rest of the world does not feel the heat. We hear the crackle of the flames, rather, – the echoes of crackling leaves, of burning bark and, scream’s of animals, both audible and silent being engulfed in flames. Today, planet Earth is engulfed in flames, and us, who set this fire are beginning to feel it, some more than ‘others’, – ‘others’ who are still privileged enough to just hear these echoes. 

Nature has witnessed species of monsters like dinosaurs to microorganisms like viruses thriving and dominating our Planet, no matter whether they disappeared or survived.

Looking at what makes up an area of biodiversity, its history and how it bounds the distributions of many different organisms, is the first step toward understanding our natural world in its entirety.

HISTORY OF BIOGEOGRAPHY

Indomalayan – Discovering the Realm

Biogeography : The Study of the distribution of Species and Ecosystems in Geographical Space and through Geological Time….

Biogeography is often studied in the context of Historical factors primarily shaping the geographical distribution of organisms from an evolutionary perspective. Another perspective considers the Ecological factors including climate, habitat and its productivity. 

Like many study areas of the human Knowledge Library, Biogeography has a multifaceted history that involves many prominent naturalists and philosophers of the 18th and 19th centuries. 

In 1848, Alfred Russel Wallace – A great supporter of Darwin throughout his life, following the co-discovery of natural selection, embarked on a specimen collecting trip to the Amazon basin. And later In 1854, he travelled to the Malay Archipelago and spent eight years there gathering specimens, including some of the famous birds of paradise.

During this time, With the discovery of ignorance, the human race welcomed the new epoch exploring the period of scientific revolutions unlocking the infinite possibilities of information and technology.

Our Planet started changing drastically; therefore organisms, their habitats and geography changed too. The legacy of ancient knowledge and rich indigenous cultures valuing life in nature, started fading away.

As the 18th Century witnessed the chain of massive changes in the environment,  few Naturalists Realised that animals and plants could change temperament and form according to the change in the environment they lived in.

During his time in the Malay Archipelago, Alfred Russel Wallace observed many things regarding the distribution of macro-organisms, and how certain species were confined to specific regions – what he referred to as ‘the faunal discontinuity with geology’.

He figured, animals to the west of the Malay Archipelago were related to Asiatic species whereas those to the east were Australasian. The division between the two is known today as the Wallace Line. 

His research was essential to the further development of biogeography, and he was later nicknamed the “father of Biogeography”. He was one of the first scientists to raise concerns about the impact of human activities on biodiversity.

Biogeographical Realms

Geography was not about explaining individual species histories, rather the areas that created them.

The geographical nature of biogeography dominated much of early 19th century plant and animal geography, until biologists started to embrace their new science and focus on endemism and evolution.

Rather than looking at the defining physical characteristics of an area, biologists then looked for the histories of individual species and the physiological and evolutionary mechanisms responsible for dispersal.

With greater emphasis on geography, early 19th century plant and animal geographers started to describe the world’s biogeographical regions, the same we use today.

Over time, Biogeographical maps changed from regionalisations into roadmaps, and geographical regions into vegetations. 

Ecology and evolutionary biology were the driving force behind the new biogeography at the beginning of the 20th century.

If we can see the world through the eyes of explorers and placing life’s diversity into a geographic context, we can overcome those barriers to the acceptance of evolution and deepen our appreciation of biodiversity.

And towards this crucial period of the Anthropocene, We are the generation to determine the future of Nature. To Be the Beginning of the Age of Wise Human Beings.

ANAND JOHNSON

Explorer. Creator. Storyteller

A storyteller, filmmaker keen to observe, capture and create stories of life in harmony with nature. The creator of the Nature film series – Indomalayan Diaries, exploring the human stories and adventures of my travel diaries while exploring the ecoregions of the Indomalayan Realm.

Raised from the Wayanad bioregion in the ancient mountain ranges of Western Ghats, a mountain kid by birth who loves the snow mountains of the Himalaya and pursuing his journey of exploring life in all biomes over every biogeographical realms and ecoregions across all continents of our planet.

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