PerspectiveEvolution

What, Where, and When?

Science  13 Sep 2013:
Vol. 341, Issue 6151, pp. 1182-1184
DOI: 10.1126/science.1240880

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Summary

Alfred Russel Wallace, whose contributions to science we celebrate this year, the 100th anniversary of his death, is probably best known for his role in articulating evolution by natural selection with Charles Darwin in the mid-19th century. But important as that was, it was his unique field-oriented perspective that gave birth to a whole new way of looking at the world. In his two-volume The Geographical Distribution of Animals (1), Wallace broke new ground by setting patterns of distribution in an evolutionary context and insisting on the necessity for comparative data across all of life (see the first figure). He can rightly be hailed as the founder of biogeography, a field that is today more important than ever as concerns mount over the fate of biodiversity.