A comment on Cowie, R.H. & Holland, B.S. (2006) Dispersal is fundamental to biogeography and the evolution of biodiversity on oceanic islands. Journal of Biogeography , 33 , 193–198. In a guest editorial Cowie & Holland (2006) treat as entirely unproblematic a dispersal model of the Hawaiian Islands (their Fig. 1). They neglect to mention the alternative vicariance model: the long history of a single ‘Big Island’ (the Hawaiian Ridge) that through volcanism grows toward the south‐east and that disintegrates toward the north‐west through erosion, subsidence and submarine slumping and landsliding. Their figure implies dispersal from older to younger islands in accordance with the ‘progression rule’ (of Hennig; Platnick, 1981 ). This imaginary dispersal is an unnecessary ‘explanation’ if biota, by colonizing younger lava flows and coalescing volcanoes, maintain themselves on the growing part of the ridge. The vicariance model is enhanced by the discovery during the 1960s to late 1980s of ‘rapid and dramatic subsidence’ ( Moore, 1987 , p. 99) and ‘giant Hawaiian [undersea] landslides’ ( Moore & Normark, 1994 ), rendering bathymetry around the modern islands a dubious basis for inferring past geological isolation of islands, even of seamounts, in this archipelago, contrary to traditional
Journal of Biogeography – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 2006
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