The Influence of Adaptations on Biogeography

The adaptations of a species, genus, family, or other taxon strongly determine the niche space under which said taxon can live. The taxon’s adaptations do so by determining the potential environments in which the taxon could live and therefore its fundamental niche and governing the taxon’s interactions with other species which then shapes the realized niche. Because niche space is not evenly spatially distributed on Earth, adaptations should then further affect a taxon’s distribution and biogeography. In this way, a taxon’s adaptations and biogeography should be linked; analysis of one should reveal properties of the other. I set out to this the hypothesis, in particular determining whether a taxon’s biogeography can reveal anything about its adaptations. Using biogeographical data and literature searches, I collected and compared three families of convergent nectarivores, the New World hummingbirds, Old World sunbirds, and Worldwide hawkmoths, to see whether their biogeography can reveal anything about their adaptations.