Original Research

The dispersal versus vicariance debate in biogeography

J. C. Poynton
Bothalia | Vol 14, No 3/4 | a1193 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/abc.v14i3/4.1193 | © 1983 J. C. Poynton | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 November 1983 | Published: 06 November 1983

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J. C. Poynton, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Natal, South Africa

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Wild’s 1964 study of the Chimanimani Mountain endemics is taken as an example of a vicariance model: endemics (1) are seen to have originated in situ from a residual fragment of an ancestral, once-continuous flora; (2) are held to present in themselves no history of major dispersal; and consequently a biogeographical intrepretation involving or presupposing their ‘migrations' is not thought to be applicable. The preference Wild expressed for this model over a dispersalist model attributed to Levyns is investigated, making use of theoretical refinements developed in the dispersal vs vicariance debate within the past decade. The differences in intrepretations between Wild and Levyns appear to be unresolvable on account of their positions not being demarcated clearly enough, and the situation has not improved since then, underlining the need for attention to be given to the formulation of applicable, coherent and testable hypotheses in biogeography.


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