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Chapter 22 : Microbial Endemism and Biogeography
The topic of microbial biogeography is almost 100 years old, however, when confronted with questions about the existence and extent of endemism in the microbial world, many microbiologists respond with opinions and theoretical arguments rather than examples of well-conducted studies. This chapter begins with an overview of this debate as it applies to free-living prokaryotes in part because there are relatively few good microbial biogeography studies. Furthermore, the arguments for microbial endemism and microbial cosmopolitanism help to frame microbial biogeography in the larger context of biodiversity in that if endemism is common, then many more species exist. The chapter discusses some studies on microbial biogeography, which seem to suggest that Finlay's view may be correct on a certain taxonomic level—the protist morphospecies or the prokaryotic genus—but that some microbes have meaningful biogeographies below that level.