« AnteriorContinuar »
gales of wind are extraordinarily rare; so that the islands are far more effectually separated from each other than they appear to be on a map. Nevertheless a good many species, both those found in other parts of the world and those confined to the archipelago, are common to the several islands, and we may infer from certain facts that these have probably spread from some one island to the others. But we often take, I think, an erroneous view of the probability of closelyallied species invading each other's territory, when put into free intercommunication. Undoubtedly if one species has any advantage whatever over another, it will in a very brief time wholly or in part supplant it; but if both are equally well fitted for
their own places in nature, both probably will hold their own places and keep separate for almost any length of time. Being familiar with the fact that many species, naturalised through man's agency, have spread with astonishing rapidity over new countries, we are apt to infer that most species would thus spread; but we should remember that the forms which become naturalised in new countries are not generally closely allied to the aboriginal inhabitants, but are very distinct species, belonging in a large proportion of cases, as shown by Alph. de Candolle, to distinct genera. In the Galapagos Archipelago, many even of the birds, though so well adapted for flying from island to island, are distinct on each ; thus there are three closely-állied species of mocking-thrush, each confined to its own island. Now let us suppose the mocking-thrush of Chatham Island to be blown to Charles Island, which has its own mocking-thrush : why should it succeed in establishing itself there? We may safely infer that Charles Island is well stocked with its own species, for annually more eggs are laid there than can possibly be reared ; and we may infer that the mocking-thrush peculiar to Charles Island is at least as well fitted for its home as is the species peculiar to Chatham Island. Sir C. Lyell and Mr. Wollaston have communicated to me a remarkable fact bearing on this subject ;
namely, that Madeira and the adjoining islet of Porto Santo possess many distinct but representative landshells, some of which live in crevices of stone; and although large quantities of stone are annually transported from Porto Santo to Madeira, yet this latter island has not become colonised by the Porto Santo species : nevertheless both islands have been colonised by some European land-shells, which no doubt had some advantage over the indigenous species. From these considerations I think we need not greatly marvel at the endemic and representative species, which inhabit the several islands of the Galapagos Archipelago, not having universally spread from island to island. In many other instances, as in the several districts of the same continent, pre-occupation has probably played an important part in checking the commingling of species under the same conditions of life. Thus, the south-east and south-west corners of Australia have nearly the same physical conditions, and are united by continuous land, yet they are inhabited by a vast number of distinct mammals, birds, and plants.
The principle which determines the general character of the fauna and flora of oceanic islands, namely, that the inhabitants, when not identically the same, yet are plainly related to the inhabitants of that region whence colonists could most readily have been derived, -the colonists having been subsequently modified and better fitted to their new homes,-is of the widest application throughout nature.
We see this on every mountain, in every lake and marsh.
For Alpine species, excepting in so far as the same forms, chiefly of plants, have spread widely throughout the world during the recent Glacial epoch, are related to those of the surrounding lowlands ;-thus we have in South America, Alpine humming-birds, Alpine rodents, Alpine plants, etc., all of strictly American forms, and it is obvious that a mountain, as it became slowly upheaved, would naturally be colonised from tho furrounding lowlands. So it is with the inhabitants of
lakes and marshes, excepting in so far as great facility of transport has given the same general forms to the whole world. We see this same principle in the blind animals inhabiting the caves of America and of Europe. Other analogous facts could be given. And it will, I believe, be universally found to be true, that wherever in two regions, let them be ever so distant, many closely-allied or representative species occur, there will likewise be found some identical species, showing, in accordance with the foregoing view, that at some former period there has been intercommunication or migration between the two regions. And wherever many closely-allied species occur, there will be found many forms which some naturalists rank as distinct species, and some as varieties ; these doubtful forms showing us the steps in the process of modification.
This relation between the power and extent of migration of a species, either at the present time or at some former period under different physical conditions, and the existence at remote points of the world of other species allied to it, is shown in another and more general way.
Mr. Gould remarked to me long ago, that in those genera of birds which range over the world, many of the species have very wide ranges. I can hardly doubt that this rule is generally true, though it would be difficult to prove it. Amongst mammals, we see it strikingly displayed in Bats, and in a lesser degree in the Felidæ and Canidæ. We see it, if we compare the distribution of butterflies and beetles. So it is with most fresh-water productions, in which so many genera range over the world, and many individual species have enormous ranges.
It is not meant that in world-ranging genera all the species have a wide range, or even that they have on an average a wide range ; but only that some of the species range very widely ; for the facility with which widelyranging species vary and give rise to new forms will largely determine their average range.
For instance, two varieties of the same species inhabit America and Europe, and the species thus has ap immense range ;
but, if the variation had been a little greater, the two varieties would have been ranked as distinct species, and the common range would have been greatly reduced. Still less is it meant, that a species which apparently has the capacity of crossing barriers and ranging widely, as in the case of certain powerfullywinged birds, will necessarily range widely; for we should never forget that to range widely implies not only the power of crossing barriers, but the more important power of being victorious in distant lands in the struggle for life with foreign associates. But on the view of all the species of a genus having descended from a single parent, though now distributed to the most remote points of the world, we ought to find, and I believe as a general rule we do find, that some at least of the species range very widely; for it is necessary that the unmodified parent should range widely, undergoing modification during its diffusion, and should place itself under diverse conditions favourable for the conversion of its spring, firstly into new varieties and ultimately into new species.
In considering the wide distribution of certain genera, we should bear in mind that some are extremely ancient, and must have branched off from a common parent at a remote epoch ; so that in such cases there will have been ample time for great climatal and geographical changes and for accidents of transport; and consequently for the migration of some of the species into all quarters of the world, where they may have become slightly modified in relation to their new conditions. There is, also, some reason to believe from geological evidence that organisms low in the scale within each great class, generally change at a slower rate than the higher forms; and consequently the lower forms will have had a better chance of ranging widely and of still retaining the same specific character. This fact, together with the seeds and eggs of many low forms being very minute and better fitted for distant transportation, probably accounts for a law which has long been observed, and which has lately been admirably
discussed by Alph. de Candolle in regard to plants, namely, that the lower any group of organisms is, the more widely it is apt to range.
The relations just discussed, -namely, low and slowly-changing organisms ranging more widely than the high,—some of the species of widely-ranging genera themselves ranging widely, -such facts, as alpine, lacustrine, and marsh productions being related (with the exceptions before specified) to those on the surrounding low lands and dry lands, though these stations are so different, -the very close relation of the distinct species which inhabit the islets of the same archipelago, -and especially the striking relation of the inhabitants of each whole archipelago or island to those of the nearest mainland,-are, I think, utterly inexplicable on the ordinary view of the independent creation of each species, but are explicable on the view of colonisation from the nearest or readiest source, together with the subsequent modification and better adaptation of the colonists to their new homes.
Summary of last and present Chapters. - In these chapters I have endeavoured to show, that if we make due allowance for our ignorance of the full effects of all the changes of climate and of the level of the land, which have certainly occurred within the recent period, and of other similar changes which may have occurred within the same period ; if we remember how profoundly ignorant we are with respect to the many and curious means of occasional transport,-a subject which has hardly ever been properly experimentised on; if we bear in mind how often a species may have ranged continuously over a wide area, and then have become extinct in the intermediate tracts, I think the difficulties in believing that all the individuals of the same species, wherever located, have descended from the same parents, are not insuperable. And we are led to this conclusion, which has been arrived at by many naturalists under the designation of single centres of creation, by some general considerations, more especially