Since Darwin's time, zoologists have attempted to define the reason why a certain species inhabits one place instead of another. Hence, they have created a dedicated discipline called biogeography to seek answers to these questions.
Similar groups of animals are inclined to live together in the same areas of the world, which are known as biogeographical areas. For instance, animals living in the Sahara Desert, in Africa, are clearly different from those found in the savannah which, in turn, present remarkable differences from those in the Congo forests.
Nature Ecology and Evolution has published a study explaining the reason for these differences. Realized by a team of Italian and French researchers guided by Francesco Ficetola, professor at the University of Milan, the study show that the geographical distribution of animals is determined by the combination of diversities in terms of climate, mountainous barriers and geological movements of continental masses.
The study compared the distribution of biogeographical areas where certain animal species live against models of climatic change, mountainous chains and movements of continents during the past 60 million years, to understand which of these factors created the limits to the distribution of animals.
It is the first time a study has provided a global vision about why life has so many different forms when we travel from one part of the world to another.
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