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Biogeography Introduction

In A Nutshell

What is biogeography? The International Biogeography Society says it promotes "the study of patterns and processes in the geography of nature," which means….uh…nature and geography. That's like, Google Earth, right?

Let's break it down so it makes more sense. Bio means "life," geo means "Earth," and "graphy" means a descriptive science. Put it back together and biogeography means a descriptive science about life on Earth. Basically, it's where stuff lives and why. Biogeography looks at the distribution of organisms around Earth, and through time. You might not be a winner of the National Geography Bee, but you can still understand (and be good at) biogeography.

Biogeography is similar to ecology because it explores the relationship between biota, or living organisms, and abiotic factors, aka the non-living environment. Like geography, it takes into account the physical factors that make a place what it is. Wind, water, temperature and soil are all abiotic factors that influence where living things can exist.

Biogeography tells us why lemurs only live in Madagascar, and why penguins live at the South Pole, but not the North Pole. It deals with the history of the continents, the changing climate of those elusive continents, and how it all shaped life on Earth.

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