Diversity, endemism and evolution in the Coral Triangle
In a recent paper by D. R. Bellwood and C. P. Meyer (‘Searching for heat in a marine biodiversity hotspot’, Journal of Biogeography, 2009, 36, 569–576), the authors had two evident objectives: (1) to disprove the theory that the geographical origins of reef organisms could be determined by locating concentrations of endemic species, and (2) to emphasize that the high diversity of the Coral Triangle was due to an accumulation of species from outside that area. With regard to the first point, no such theory had previously been proposed to my knowledge. Second, the accumulation theory was promoted without consideration of the facts supporting the centre of origin hypothesis, except to dismiss it by saying that it had its origin in pre-continental drift ideas. This short response outlines the properties and evidence for the operation of centres of origin in this region.