The Wallacea Research Group currently comprises 32 researchers or labs from 22 institutions in Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America. If you are conducting research on the biogeography or evolution of Wallacean taxa, you are very welcome to join us by simply using the Contact link.
Wallacea is a region in Eastern Indonesia comprising thousands of islands separated by deep water straits from the continental islands to the West (Sundaland: Borneo, Java and Sumatra) and East (New Guinea).
For biologists, the Wallacea is one of the most intriguing areas of the world. It is extremely rich in endemic species, i.e. species that are only found in Wallacea or on single islands within this region. Consequently, it is recognized as one of earth’s 34 so-called "biodiversity hotspots". With some justification Wallacea has also been dubbed the "birthplace" of biogeography, the science that aims at uncovering and understanding the past and present distribution patterns of plants and animals.
Wallacea is named after the great British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who travelled extensively in the area between 1854-1862 and was the first to extensively discuss the origin of the region’s fauna and flora. Ever since c. 1850, legions of biologists aimed at understanding the complex distribution patterns found in the area.
Read more about the biogeography of Wallacea
While it is largely undisputed that the biota of Wallacea are derived from both large continental areas enclosing it, Asia and Australia, the details are still, 150 years after Wallace, poorly understood. Two major reasons are the lack of a well-supported understanding of the relationships (the phylogeny) of groups in the Wallacea to their relatives outside the region and uncertainties related to the geology of Indonesia and Wallacea in particular, which is among the most complex plate tectonic puzzles found on earth.
On both issues, significant advances have been made in recent years thanks to technological advances (e.g. molecular systematics) and extensive field research. The Wallacea Research Group is an informal body of researchers working on the biogeography of a diverse array of animal groups in the Wallacea. Our aim is to co-ordinate research efforts e.g. by applying the same approach in data collection and analysis, and by joint field trips. The ultimate goal is to achieve a synthetic understanding of the history of Wallacean biota by comparing patterns from many groups.