Moderators: Dorothy Rosenthal and Jim Scott
Role of participants: Prepare report and lead discussion.
Number of participants (including the moderator): 16-18
Time: Mondays, 1:30–3:30 pm
Place: Applewood, 1st Floor Meeting Room, One Spencer Drive, Amherst
Parking: Ample parking on site; please park on the outside curve of Spencer Drive, not in the parking lot!

Study of the distribution of plants and animals in geographic space and through geological time

This seminar is an introduction to biogeography, the study of the distribution of plants and animals in geographic space and geological time. Biogeography unites ecology, evolutionary biology, geology, and physical geography. Scientists have turned to two main ideas to explain the present distribution of species of plants and animals. The first is that geologic events account for the distribution patterns. The second is that long-distance dispersal accounts for the distribution of at least some species. We will examine these two theories in specific cases and critique the emerging compromise between these two schools of thought.

Format: Seminar


  • Required reading: Here Be Dragons by Dennis McCarthy, 2011
  • Highly recommended: The Monkey’s Voyage by Alan deQueiroz, 2014

The moderators: Both moderators have had considerable experience teaching science to high school students and leading seminars for 5CLIR. This will not be the first seminar they will moderate together.

Additional Information: We will begin with an introduction to the history and basic concepts of biogeography. Then we will consider specific biogeographic puzzles and how they have (or have not) been solved.


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