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Zoogeographic regions of Wallace, 1876 Wallace03.jpg
Zoogeographic regions of Wallace, 1876

Zoogeography is the branch of the science of biogeography that is concerned with geographic distribution (present and past) of animal species. [1]


As a multifaceted field of study, zoogeography incorporates methods of molecular biology, genetics, morphology, phylogenetics, and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to delineate evolutionary events within defined regions of study around the globe. Once proposed by Alfred Russell Wallace, known to be the father of Zoogeography, phylogenetic affinities can be quantified among zoogeographic regions, further elucidating the phenomena surrounding geographic distributions of organisms and explaining evolutionary relationships of taxa. [2]

Advancements in molecular biology and theory of evolution within zoological research has unraveled questions concerning speciation events and has expanded phylogenic relationships amongst taxa. [3] Integration of phylogenetics with GIS provides a means for communicating evolutionary origins through cartographic design. Related research linking phylogenetics and GIS has been conducted in areas of the southern Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Pacific Oceans. Recent innovations in DNA bar-coding, for example, have allowed for explanations of phylogenetic relationships within two families of marine venomous fishes, Scorpaenidae and Tetraodontidae, residing in the Andaman Sea. [4] Continued efforts to understand species evolutionary divergence articulated in the geologic time scale based on fossil records for killifish (Aphanius and Aphanolebias) in locales of the Mediterranean and Paratethys areas revealed climatological influences during the Miocene [5] Further development of research within zoogeography has expanded upon knowledge of the productivity of South Atlantic ocean regions and distribution of organisms in analogous regions, providing both ecological and geographic data to supply a framework for the taxonomic relationships and evolutionary branching of benthic polychaetes. [6]

Modern-day zoogeography also places a reliance on GIS to integrate a more precise understanding and predictive model of the past, current, and future population dynamics of animal species both on land and in the ocean. Through employment of GIS technology, linkages between abiotic factors of habitat such as topography, latitude, longitude, temperatures, and sea level can serve to explain the distribution of species populations through geologic time. Understanding correlations of habitat formation and the migration patterns of organisms at an ecological level allows for explanations of speciation events that may have arisen due to physical geographic isolation events or the incorporation of new refugia to survive unfavorable environmental conditions [7]

Zoogeographic regions

Schmarda (1853) proposed 21 regions, [8] [9] while Woodward proposed 27 terrestrial and 18 marine, [10] Murray (1866) proposed 4, [11] Blyth (1871) proposed 7, [12] Allen (1871) 8 regions, [13] Heilprin (1871) proposed 6, [14] Newton (1893) proposed 6, [15] Gadow (1893) proposed 4. [16]

Philip Sclater (1858) and Alfred Wallace (1876) identified the main zoogeographic regions of the world used today: Palaearctic, Aethiopian (today Afrotropic), India (today Indomalayan), Australasian, Nearctic and Neotropical. [17] [18] [19] [20] [21]

Marine regionalization began with Ortmann (1896). [22] [23]

In a similar way to geobotanic divisions, our planet is divided in zoogeographical (or faunal) regions (further divided as provinces, territories and districts), sometimes including the categories Empire and Domain.

The current trend is to classify the floristic kingdoms of botany or zoogeographic regions of zoology as biogeographic realms.

Following, some examples of regionalizations:

Sclater (1858)

Creatio Palaeogeana

Creatio Neogeana

Huxley (1868)

Huxley (1868) scheme: [24]

Wallace (1876)

Trouessart (1890)

Scheme by Trouessart (1890): [25]

Darlington (1957)

First scheme:

Second scheme:

See also

Related Research Articles

Nearctic realm

The Nearctic is one of the eight biogeographic realms constituting the Earth's land surface.

Neotropical realm

The Neotropical realm is one of the eight biogeographic realms constituting Earth's land surface. Physically, it includes the tropical terrestrial ecoregions of the Americas and the entire South American temperate zone.

Biogeography The study of the distribution of species and ecosystems in geographic space and through geological time

Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species and ecosystems in geographic space and through geological time. Organisms and biological communities often vary in a regular fashion along geographic gradients of latitude, elevation, isolation and habitat area. Phytogeography is the branch of biogeography that studies the distribution of plants. Zoogeography is the branch that studies distribution of animals. Mycogeography is the branch that studies distribution of fungi, such as mushrooms.

Biogeographic realm Broadest biogeographic division of Earths land surface

A biogeographic realm or ecozone is the broadest biogeographic division of Earth's land surface, based on distributional patterns of terrestrial organisms. They are subdivided into ecoregions, which are classified based on their biomes or habitat types.

Palearctic realm Biogeographic realm covering most of Eurasia

The Palearctic or Palaearctic is one of the eight biogeographic realms of the Earth. It was first used in the 19th century, and is still in use as the basis for zoogeographic classification. The Palearctic is the largest of the eight realms. It stretches across all of Eurasia north of the foothills of the Himalayas, and North Africa.

Wallace Line Faunal boundary line separating the realms of Asia and Wallacea, a transitional zone between Asia and Australia

The Wallace Line or Wallace's Line is a faunal boundary line drawn in 1859 by the British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace and named by English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley that separates the biogeographical realms of Asia and Wallacea, a transitional zone between Asia and Australia. West of the line are found organisms related to Asiatic species; to the east, a mixture of species of Asian and Australian origin is present. Wallace noticed this clear division during his travels through the East Indies in the 19th century.

Phylogeography is the study of the historical processes that may be responsible for the contemporary geographic distributions of individuals. This is accomplished by considering the geographic distribution of individuals in light of genetics, particularly population genetics.

Philip Sclater

Philip Lutley Sclater was an English lawyer and zoologist. In zoology, he was an expert ornithologist, and identified the main zoogeographic regions of the world. He was Secretary of the Zoological Society of London for 42 years, from 1860–1902.

Boreal Kingdom

The Boreal Kingdom or Holarctic Kingdom (Holarctis) is a floristic kingdom identified by botanist Ronald Good, which includes the temperate to Arctic portions of North America and Eurasia. Its flora is inherited from the ancient supercontinent of Laurasia. However, parts of the floristic kingdom were glaciated during the Pleistocene and as a consequence have a very young flora. Cenozoic relicts found refuge in the southern and mountainous parts of the kingdom, especially in the Eastern Asiatic Region and southern North American Atlantic Region.

Phytogeography or botanical geography is the branch of biogeography that is concerned with the geographic distribution of plant species and their influence on the earth's surface. Phytogeography is concerned with all aspects of plant distribution, from the controls on the distribution of individual species ranges to the factors that govern the composition of entire communities and floras. Geobotany, by contrast, focuses on the geographic space's influence on plants.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to ecology:


Miletinae is a subfamily of the family Lycaenidae of butterflies, commonly called harvesters and woolly legs, and virtually unique among butterflies in having predatory larvae. Miletinae are entirely aphytophagous. The ecology of the Miletinae is little understood, but adults and larvae live in association with ants, and most known species feed on Hemiptera, though some, like Liphyra, feed on the ants themselves. The butterflies, ants, and hemipterans, in some cases, seem to have complex symbiotic relationships benefiting all.

Ludwig Karl Schmarda

Ludwig Karl Schmarda was an Austrian naturalist and traveler, born at Olmütz, Moravia.

Western Palaearctic

The Western Palaearctic or Western Palearctic is part of the Palaearctic realm, one of the eight biogeographic realms dividing the Earth's surface. Because of its size, the Palaearctic is often divided for convenience into two, with Europe, North Africa, northern and central parts of the Arabian Peninsula, and part of temperate Asia, roughly to the Ural Mountains forming the western zone, and the rest of temperate Asia becoming the Eastern Palaearctic. Its exact boundaries differ depending on the authority in question, but the Handbook of the Birds of Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa: The Birds of the Western Palearctic (BWP) definition is widely used, and is followed by the most popular Western Palearctic checklist, that of the Association of European Rarities Committees (AERC). The Western Palearctic realm includes mostly boreal and temperate climate ecoregions.


The Eupnoi are a suborder of harvestmen, with more than 200 genera, and about 1,700 described species.

Freshwater bivalves are one kind of freshwater molluscs, along with freshwater snails. They are bivalves which live in freshwater, as opposed to saltwater, the main habitat type for bivalves.

Fauna of Asia

All the animals living in Asia and its surrounding seas and islands are considered the fauna of Asia. Since there is no natural biogeographic boundary in the west between Europe and Asia, the term "fauna of Asia" is somewhat elusive. Temperate Asia is the eastern part of the Palearctic realm, and its south-eastern part belongs to the Indomalayan realm. Asia shows a notable diversity of habitats, with significant variations in rainfall, altitude, topography, temperature and geological history, which is reflected in its richness of animal life.


Gastrodontidae is a family of air-breathing land snails, terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusks in the superfamily Gastrodontoidea.

<i>Donacaula</i> Genus of moths

Donacaula is a genus of moths of the family Crambidae. The genus was erected by Edward Meyrick in 1890.


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