Marine Biogeography and



Marine biogeography, the study of the geographical distribution of marine organisms is a core discipline of evolutionary biology since the days of Darwin and Wallace. We will examine the origins of biogeography as an historical science, the biogeographic evidence that supports the theory of evolution, Gondwana distributions and continental drift, and the relationship of phylogeny to biogeography.

This course will examine in particular the basic concepts of evolution and biogeography as they relate to the marine realm. The course will focus on the application of methods used to study evolution and biogeography and will draw on a wide range of evidence from molecular data, through distribution records, the fossil record and life history traits to larval duration to explain biodiversity in the marine environment. We will review several case histories to demonstrate the role of historical events in determining distributions of marine taxa and contrast this with the role of ecological factors in maintaining marine populations.


Understanding the methods used to study the phylogeography marine organisms; 

Evaluation of current concepts of species and factors influencing speciation and distribution patterns; 

Knowledge of the main geological event that shaped the planet and that influenced volume and bathymetry of main water bodies;

Knowledge of the evolutionary history, distribution patterns, speciation patterns of a number of marine organisms.


The History of Biogeography (the science of biogeography, philosophy and basic principles and approaches, pivotal biogeographers, examples of contemporary biogeography) 

Phylogeography - models of speciation, phylogenetic inference, molecular clock, historical demography. 

Paleogeography - dating events, geological time scales, continental drift, evolution of ocean basins (Tethys, Atlantic, Mediterranean), paleoclimates, past sea levels. 

Case studies: the Atlantic/Mediterranean divide; coastal species, estuarine species; open ocean species and deep-sea species.


Dedicated webpage, with all relevant information: chronogram of lectures, with all materials available beforehand: both class presentations and reading materials will be available as pdf files.

Audio-visual subject presentation, with open discussion in class. Lectures (15h) will prompt discussions and assigned readings from the primary literature to stimulate critical thinking about the various topics.

Computer lab classes (25 h) with exercises available beforehand. Group discussion encouraged.

Seminars (5h) will be dedicated to topic questions in marine evolution and biogeography.


Upon completion of this course, students will be able to: 

To understand and be familiar with the methods used to study the biogeography of marine organisms;

To have a knowledge of the evolutionary history, life history, distribution patterns, speciation patterns of a number of marine organisms;

To be able to critically evaluate current concepts of marine species and factors influencing speciation and distribution patterns;

To understand the applications of historical and ecological biogeographic analyses in the study of marine systems.

Critically evaluate arguments and assumptions and interpret published data relating to marine biogeography and phylogeography in particular;

Utilize the scientific process to form hypotheses and design studies for gathering and analyzing data from which to draw scientifically valid conclusions.

Discuss the nature of insular faunas with respect to immigration, extinction, area, and evolutionary history.


The evaluation will be based on two items

 1.  Written examination (70%)

       Students scoring less than 10/20 on the written examination are required to have a re-sit exam at a later date.

 2. Flash talk (30%)

     on a subject or paper of direct interest to marine biogeography.

 Presentation days: proposed date 13th March

Center for Marine Sciences, Faro, University of Algarve, Portugal