Over the last decade, molecular studies carried out on the Australasian biota have revealed a new world of organic structure that exists from submicroscopic to continental scale. Furthermore, in studies of global biogeography and evolution, DNA sequencing has shown that many large groups, such as flowering plants, passerine birds and squamates, have their basal components in this area. Using examples ranging from kangaroos and platypuses to kiwis and birds of paradise, the book examines the patterns of distribution and evolution of Australasian biodiversity and explains them with reference to tectonic and climatic change in the region. The surprising results from molecular biogeography demonstrate that an understanding of evolution in Australasia is essential for understanding the development of modern life on Earth. A milestone in the literature on this subject, this book will be a valuable source of reference for students and researchers in biogeography, biodiversity, ecology and conservation.
Michael Heads is a Research Associate at the Buffalo Museum of Science, Buffalo, NY, USA. He is also an independent scholar living in New Zealand. He has carried out most of his field work in rainforest and in alpine areas and has authored over 70 publications in the areas of biogeography and taxonomy, including his most recent book, Molecular Panbiogeography of the Tropics (2012).