Unlikely Yet Pivotal Long Dispersals. Nathan, R. & Nathan, O. 344(6180):153–154.
Unlikely Yet Pivotal Long Dispersals [link]Paper  doi  abstract   bibtex   
[Excerpt] Long-distance dispersal can enable a species to colonize new areas far from its range, with potentially drastic consequences for ecology, evolution, and biogeography. In The Monkey's Voyage, Alan de Queiroz argues that long-distance dispersals are necessary to explaining the evolutionary histories of many animals and plants across the world. Although Charles Darwin (1) and Alfred Russel Wallace (2) came to the same conclusion over a century ago, the dispersalist view has long been strongly resisted. In particular, the acceptance of plate tectonics in the 1960s expedited an alternative view, known as vicariance biogeography, which soon gained forceful support. This alternative uses vicariance (splitting) events, such as those driven by the rupture and motion of continental plates, to explain the geographical distribution of species. Vicariance processes have fragmented formerly continuous distributions of taxonomic groups, and the subsequent processes of dispersal, speciation, and extinction took place within each fragment (without links through long-distance dispersals among them). Supporters of the vicariance paradigm hold that dispersals over great distances are so unlikely that they never actually happen [...]. De Queiroz's centerpiece example is the seemingly miraculous transoceanic dispersal of monkeys. Two major taxonomic groups of monkeys – catarrhine (downward-pointing nose) monkeys of the Old World and platyrrhine (flat nose) monkeys of the New World – are closely related sister groups, which means that their disjunct distribution offers a powerful test for the dispersal-vicariance debate. Estimates from relaxed molecular clocks indicate that the platyrrhine-catarrhine split occurred about 41 million years ago (the mean of 31 million to 51 million years). That is much later than the separation of the African and South American plates as part of the breakup of Gondwana, estimated as about 110 million years ago. Thus, de Queiroz argues that monkeys must have made a highly improbable journey of at least 1450 km across the Atlantic Ocean. The immigrants eventually gave rise to the 124 extant species of monkey in the New World. Caviomorph and simodontine rodents also diversified from transoceanic-dispersed ancestors. Together, the three clades comprise 673 extant species – 73\,% of South America's nonflying, nonaquatic mammal species – many of which play key roles in shaping the continent's ecosystems and filling its biodiversity hotspots. Essayist Nassim Taleb refers to rare and unpredictable random events that have a huge impact as black swans (4). Most discussions of black swans focus on key anthropocentric examples, such as the rise of the Internet and 9/11, but his theory can also be applied to various geophysical and biological phenomena, including extreme weather, earthquakes, wildfires, epidemics, and tumor dissemination. Such rare events are not well captured by the typical Gaussian (bell-shaped) distribution, but by fat-tailed distributions with large deviations from the mean, characterized for those systems and also for movements of organisms (5, 6). De Queiroz argues that the few Eocene monkeys that completed their improbable trans-Atlantic journey merit the moniker of black swans due to the extreme rarity of their long-distance dispersal and its massive impact. [...]
@article{nathanUnlikelyPivotalLong2014,
  title = {Unlikely {{Yet Pivotal Long Dispersals}}},
  author = {Nathan, Ran and Nathan, Oz},
  date = {2014-04},
  journaltitle = {Science},
  volume = {344},
  pages = {153--154},
  issn = {1095-9203},
  doi = {10.1126/science.1250904},
  url = {https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1250904},
  abstract = {[Excerpt] Long-distance dispersal can enable a species to colonize new areas far from its range, with potentially drastic consequences for ecology, evolution, and biogeography. In The Monkey's Voyage, Alan de Queiroz argues that long-distance dispersals are necessary to explaining the evolutionary histories of many animals and plants across the world. Although Charles Darwin (1) and Alfred Russel Wallace (2) came to the same conclusion over a century ago, the dispersalist view has long been strongly resisted. In particular, the acceptance of plate tectonics in the 1960s expedited an alternative view, known as vicariance biogeography, which soon gained forceful support. 

This alternative uses vicariance (splitting) events, such as those driven by the rupture and motion of continental plates, to explain the geographical distribution of species. Vicariance processes have fragmented formerly continuous distributions of taxonomic groups, and the subsequent processes of dispersal, speciation, and extinction took place within each fragment (without links through long-distance dispersals among them). Supporters of the vicariance paradigm hold that dispersals over great distances are so unlikely that they never actually happen [...].

De Queiroz's centerpiece example is the seemingly miraculous transoceanic dispersal of monkeys. Two major taxonomic groups of monkeys -- catarrhine (downward-pointing nose) monkeys of the Old World and platyrrhine (flat nose) monkeys of the New World -- are closely related sister groups, which means that their disjunct distribution offers a powerful test for the dispersal-vicariance debate. Estimates from relaxed molecular clocks indicate that the platyrrhine-catarrhine split occurred about 41 million years ago (the mean of 31 million to 51 million years). That is much later than the separation of the African and South American plates as part of the breakup of Gondwana, estimated as about 110 million years ago. Thus, de Queiroz argues that monkeys must have made a highly improbable journey of at least 1450 km across the Atlantic Ocean. The immigrants eventually gave rise to the 124 extant species of monkey in the New World. Caviomorph and simodontine rodents also diversified from transoceanic-dispersed ancestors. Together, the three clades comprise 673 extant species -- 73\,\% of South America's nonflying, nonaquatic mammal species -- many of which play key roles in shaping the continent's ecosystems and filling its biodiversity hotspots.

Essayist Nassim Taleb refers to rare and unpredictable random events that have a huge impact as black swans (4). Most discussions of black swans focus on key anthropocentric examples, such as the rise of the Internet and 9/11, but his theory can also be applied to various geophysical and biological phenomena, including extreme weather, earthquakes, wildfires, epidemics, and tumor dissemination. Such rare events are not well captured by the typical Gaussian (bell-shaped) distribution, but by fat-tailed distributions with large deviations from the mean, characterized for those systems and also for movements of organisms (5, 6). De Queiroz argues that the few Eocene monkeys that completed their improbable trans-Atlantic journey merit the moniker of black swans due to the extreme rarity of their long-distance dispersal and its massive impact. [...]},
  keywords = {*imported-from-citeulike-INRMM,~INRMM-MiD:c-13144089,long-distance-dispersal,modelling-uncertainty,rare-events,serendipity,spatial-spread,species-dispersal,statistics,uncertainty,unknown},
  number = {6180}
}
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