What has become of the refugia hypothesis to explain biological diversity in Amazonia?

Ecology and Evolution
Daniel Gomes da Rocha, Igor L Kaefer


The spatial distribution of biodiversity and related processes is the core of Biogeography. Amazonia is the world's most diverse rainforest and the primary source of diversity to several Neotropical regions. The origins of such diversity continue to be an unresolved question in evolutionary biology. Among many competing hypotheses to explain the evolution of the Amazonian biodiversity, one stands out as the most influential: the refugia hypothesis by Jürgen Haffer. Here, we provide a chronological overview on how the refugia hypothesis evolved over the decades and how the criticism from different fields affected its acceptance. We conclude that the refugia hypothesis alone cannot explain the diversification of the complex Amazonian diversity, and perhaps it was not the most important diversification mechanism. However, the debate provoked by refugia has produced a great amount of knowledge on Amazonian climatic, geological, and evolutionary processes, as well as on species distributions, movements, and history.


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Related Concepts

Biological Evolution
Spatial Distribution
Evolution, Molecular
Complex (molecular entity)

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