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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 4(1)

Distributional patterns and tectonic development in Indonesia: Wallace reinterpreted

B Michaux

Australian Systematic Botany 4(1) 25 - 36
Published: 1991


A. R. Wallace's name will always be linked with what was known as the Malay Archipelago, and thus it seems appropriate to reassess his contribution to Indonesian biogeography. Wallace is often regarded as the founder of 'dispersalist' biogeography. However, this simplified view seriously misrepresents Wallace's position, which was that animal and plant distributions in Indonesia could be understood in terms of the region's geological history. This view is contrasted with that of dispersalist biogeography, which is that present distributions are the result of unique events, that the present is a consequence of past accidents. The results of Wallace's work are outlined and are reinterpreted in the light of modern evidence about the tectonic development of this region. It is concluded that Wallace's observations are broadly intelligible in the light of what is known about Indonesia's geological history. There is much to gain by biogeographers and geologists working together more closely in Indonesia, for there are many outstanding problems that require resolution. This then is one future direction that may be taken as we stand at the crossroads.

Full text doi:10.1071/SB9910025

© CSIRO 1991

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