Biogeographers have used biotic resemblances and differences to distinguish discrete biogeographic areas. One of the most useful and commonly applied measures of biotic resemblance is a simple binary similarity coefficient developed by G. G. Simpson (1936). In the present study I apply the Simpson Coefficient of faunal similarity to three distributional data sets (at several taxonomic levels): (1) Recent North American mammals; (2) Recent global mammals; and (3) Early Eocene mammals of North America, Europe, and Asia. These analyses yield the following results.
Faunal realms of large geographic scale can be distinguished both by within-realm faunal similarities/between realm faunal dissimilarity, and by relatively sharp gradients of change of similarity across faunal realm boundaries.
Geographic distribution patterns of Recent North American mammals show several important trends: (1) an inverse relationship between faunal similarity and both longitudinal and latitudinal separation between sites; (2) a latitudinal asymmetry in similarity comparisons; (3) endemism of western North American faunas; and (4) differentiation of lower level faunal provinces is the result of complex interplay between major latitudinal climatic gradients and less influential (frequently longitudinal) regional climatic, tectonic, and geographic factors.
Significant differences in taxonomic diversity between localities makes the Simpson Coefficient a more useful measure of faunal resemblance than other binary similarity coefficients, both for Recent and fossil assemblages.
High similarities for Early Eocene faunal comparisons indicate presence of a single North American-European faunal realm; low resemblances of Asian Early Eocene faunas both to European and North American faunas indicate a distinct Asian faunal realm.
Available, but incomplete, evidence from faunal resemblances indicates that Ellesmere Island was part of a single, continuous European/North American faunal realm.
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Vertebrates, Phylogeny, and Philosophy
Dr. George Gaylord Simpson, one of the most important evolutionary biologists of the Twentieth Century, was born on June 16, 1902 and died on October 6, 1984. His contributions to science include not only a modern synthesis of evolutionary thought, but original research on anthropology, mammalogy, paleontology, general biology, and statistics. His prolific writings were intended for scientific and non—scientific communities alike. He helped and encouraged many who now work in the fields of paleontology and evolutionary biology. Contributors to this book dedicate their efforts as tribute to his memory.
Included authors are colleagues, former students, and friends of Dr. Simpson’s. They represent but a few of the people he would have included in these categories. The book is intended to suggest only a sampling of the diversity of George Gaylord Simpson's impact on present vertebrate paleontology, from its most senior to its very junior participants.
Ms. Flanagan’s letter of invitation entreated the following from potential authors: "In the spirit of Dr. Simpson’s own writings, we encourage imaginative contributions that would be just a little different from items expected in a regular scientific journal." The title of the volume (Vertebrates, Phylogeny, and Philosophy) reflects that request. Though individual articles deal almost exclusively with fossil mammals, emphases cross the spectrum of evolutionary biology, including systematic paleontology, considerations of adaptation, ontogeny, analyses of evolutionary tem— po and mode, biogeographic procedure, and paleogeography. Philip Gingerich’s contribution stresses the crucial importance of solid empirical research to the foundations upon which theoretical/philosophical writings should be based. Mesozoic and Cenozoic taxa are considered, and two articles discuss the modern union of molecular biology, genetics, and paleontology. Most articles benefited directly from the pioneering writings of George Simpson, yet the breadth of concerns of this volume covers only a small fraction of the interests exhibited in his lifetime of evolutionary research.
Kathryn Flanagan served as principal correspondent with authors and reviewers. Jason Lillegraven had principal responsibility for manuscript editing and considerations of production.
We take this opportunity to thank the thirty-two authors for their contributions. Similarly, more than fifty individuals served as unpaid reviewers, and we give our most sincere thanks for their generosity of time and effort. Also, we thank Linda E. Lillegraven for creating the cover design.