Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V13, Page 432 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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GEOGRAPHICAL DISTRIBUTION The class Hexapoda has a world-wide range, and so have most of its component orders. The Aptera have perhaps the most extensive distribution of all animals, being found in Franz Josef Land and South Victoria Land, on the snows of Alpine glaciers, and in the depths of the most extensive caves. Most of the families and a large proportion of the genera of insects are exceedingly widespread, but a study of the genera and species in any of the more important families shows that faunas can be distinguished whose headquarters agree fairly with the regions that have been proposed to express the distribution of the higher vertebrates. Many insects, however, can readily extend their range, and a careful study of their distribution leads us to discriminate between faunas rather than definitely to map regions. A large and dominant Holoarctic fauna, with numerous sub-divisions, ranges over the great northern continents, and is characterized by the abundance of certain families like the Carahidae and Staphylinidae among the Coleoptera and the Tenthredinidae among the Hymenoptera. The southern territory held by this fauna is invaded by genera and species distinctly tropical. Oriental types range far northwards into China and Japan. Ethiopian forms invade the Mediterranean area. Neotropical and distinctively Sonoran insects mingle with members of the Holoarctic fauna across a wide " transition zone " in North America. " Wallace's line " dividing the Indo-Malayan and Austro-Malayan sub-regions is frequently transgressed in the range of Malayan insects. The Australian fauna is rich in characteristic and peculiar genera, and New Zealand, while possessing some remarkable insects of its own, lacks entirely several families with an almost world-wide range—for example, the Notodontidae, Lasiocampidae, and other families of Lepidoptera. Interesting relationships between the Ethiopian and Oriental, the Neotropical and West African, the Patagonian and New Zealand faunas suggest great changes in the distribution of land and water, and throw doubt on the doctrine of the permanence of continental areas and oceanic basins. Holoarctic types reappear on the Andes and in South Africa, and even in New Zealand. The study of the Hexapoda of oceanic islands is full of interest. After the determination of a number of cosmopolitan insects that may well have been artificially introduced, there remains a large proportion of 'endemic species—sometimes referable to distinct genera—which suggest a high antiquity for the truly insular faunas.
End of Article: GEOGRAPHICAL
GEOGRAPHY (Gr. yil, earth, and ypiickty, to write)

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