Scientists provide an explanation for the imaginary line stretching across Indonesia

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Scientists provide an explanation for the imaginary line stretching across Indonesia

After more than 160 years since its initial establishment, scientists have finally unraveled the enigmatic evolutionary puzzle associated with the Wallace Line, an imaginary and real biogeographical boundary. This boundary, named after the renowned British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, was observed during his exploration of the Malay Archipelago, comprising over 25,000 islands between Southeast Asia and Australia.

Wallace noticed a significant shift in species composition beyond a certain point, leading to the delineation of the Wallace Line. Creatures on the Asian side of the boundary originated solely from Asia, while on the Australian side, they represented a mixture of both Asian and Australian ancestry. This asymmetric distribution of species has perplexed ecologists for more than a century.

Recent research has shed light on the mystery by proposing that extreme climate changes, caused by tectonic activity around 35 million years ago, were the driving force behind the uneven distribution of species. During this period, Australia broke away from Antarctica and collided with Asia, giving rise to the Malay Archipelago.

Alfred Russel Wallace pictured in London in 1896. (Image credit: London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company)

Using computer simulations, scientists studied the impact of these climate changes on more than 20,000 species on either side of the Wallace Line. They found that Asian species were better suited to the climatic conditions in the archipelago at that time. The separation of Australia and Antarctica led to the Antarctic Circumpolar Current (ACC), significantly cooling the climate and creating a contrast between the warm and wet conditions in Southeast Asia and the islands and the cold and dry climate in Australia.

A map of the Malay Archipelago drawn by Alfred Russel Wallace in 1863 featuring the first iteration of the Wallace Line. (Image credit: Alfred Russel Wallace)

Consequently, Asian species found the Malay Archipelago conducive to their survival and used it as a stepping stone to migrate toward Australia. In contrast, Australian species, adapted to a cooler and drier climate, struggled to gain a foothold on the tropical islands. This disparity in adaptability explains the observed pattern of species distribution across the Wallace Line.

The findings of this study are not only relevant to the understanding of past evolutionary events but also hold implications for predicting the impacts of modern-day climate change on living species. By employing their computer model, researchers aim to forecast how current climate changes might affect species distribution and biodiversity patterns globally.


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Akhyari Hananto

I began my career in the banking industry in 1997, and stayed approx 6 years in it. This industry boost his knowledge about the economic condition in Indonesia, both macro and micro, and how to More understand it. My banking career continued in Yogyakarta when I joined in a program funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB),as the coordinator for a program aimed to help improve the quality of learning and teaching process in private universities in Yogyakarta. When the earthquake stroke Yogyakarta, I chose to join an international NGO working in the area of ?disaster response and management, which allows me to help rebuild the city, as well as other disaster-stricken area in Indonesia. I went on to become the coordinator for emergency response in the Asia Pacific region. Then I was assigned for 1 year in Cambodia, as a country coordinator mostly to deliver developmental programs (water and sanitation, education, livelihood). In 2009, he continued his career as a protocol and HR officer at the U.S. Consulate General in Surabaya, and two years later I joined the Political and Economic Section until now, where i have to deal with extensive range of people and government officials, as well as private and government institution troughout eastern Indonesia. I am the founder and Editor-in-Chief in Good News From Indonesia (GNFI), a growing and influential social media movement, and was selected as one of The Most Influential Netizen 2011 by The Marketeers magazine. I also wrote a book on "Fundamentals of Disaster Management in 2007"?, "Good News From Indonesia : Beragam Prestasi Anak Bangsa di dunia"? which was luanched in August 2013, and "Indonesia Bersyukur"? which is launched in Sept 2013. In 2014, 3 books were released in which i was one of the writer; "Indonesia Pelangi Dunia"?, "Indonesia The Untold Stories"? and "Growing! Meretas Jalan Kejayaan" I give lectures to students in lectures nationwide, sharing on full range of issues, from economy, to diplomacy Less
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