Meeting Abstract

S5-1.2  Thursday, Jan. 5  How a Dynamic Climate and Landscape in Southeast Asia During the Neogene Directed the Evolution and Diversification of Marine Snakes VORIS, Harold K.; Field Museum of Natural History, Chicago

The Sunda and Sahul continental shelves are the second and third largest on our planet and they are at the center of the present day geographic distribution of both the sea kraits and the true sea snakes. The biogeographic importance of sea-level fluctuations during and after the LGM has been cited by many authors, with an emphasis on the maximum land exposure. However, recent work has drawn attention to other less obvious consequences of sea-level changes. Terrestrial and marine ecosystems across these shelves were relentlessly reshaped throughout the Neogene. The biogeographic implications of retreating or inundating sea levels are far reaching as they simultaneously create and destroy terrestrial and marine habitat which in turn creates bridges and barriers to dispersal. Of primary importance are several interrelated physical factors including the extent or amplitude of sea-level change, the rate of sea-level change, the direction of change, grade or bathymetry of the bridge or seaway, the extent (area) of bridge or seaway produced, the duration of the bridge or seaway, the orientation of the bridge or seaway, and the regional climatic conditions resulting from the new configuration. The influence of these factors on the evolution and ecology of marine snakes are explored.