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Wallace Line

Wallace's Line delineates Australian and Southeast Asian fauna. The probable extent of land at the time of the last glacial maximum, when the sea level was more than 110 m lower than today, is shown in grey. The deep water of the Lombok Strait between Bali and Lombok formed a water barrier even when lower sea levels linked the now-separated islands and landmasses on either side.

The Wallace Line or Wallace's Line is a faunal boundary line drawn in 1859 by the British naturalist East Indies in the 19th century. The line runs through Indonesia, between Borneo and Sulawesi (Celebes), and through the Lombok Strait between Bali and Lombok. The distance between Bali and Lombok is small, about 35 kilometres (22 mi). The distributions of many bird species observe the line, since many birds do not cross even the smallest stretches of open ocean water. Some bats have distributions that cross the line, but other mammals are generally limited to one side or the other; an exception is the crab-eating macaque. Other groups of plants and animals show differing patterns, but the overall pattern is striking and reasonably consistent.

Flora do not follow the Wallace Line to the same extent as fauna.[1]


  • Background 1
  • Biogeography 2
  • See also 3
  • References 4
  • Further reading 5
  • External links 6


The original drawing of the line from Wallace's paper

[2] The name 'Wallace's Line' was first used by Thomas Huxley in an 1868 paper to the Zoological Society of London, but showed the line to the west of the Philippines.[3][4]


The Wallacea region situated between the Wallace Line (after Ernst Mayr or Thomas Henry Huxley) and the Lydekker Line

Understanding of the biogeography of the region centers on the relationship of ancient sea levels to the continental shelves. Wallace's Line is visible geographically when the continental shelf contours are examined; it can be seen as a deep-water channel that marks the southeastern edge of the Sunda Shelf which links Borneo, Bali, Java, and Sumatra underwater to the mainland of southeastern Asia. Australia is likewise connected by the Sahul Shelf to New Guinea. The biogeographic boundary known as Lydekker's Line, which separates the eastern edge of Wallacea from the Australian region, has a similar origin to the Wallace line.

During Weber's Line" runs through this transitional area (to the east of centre), at the tipping point between dominance by species of Asian against those of Australian origin.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Van Welzen, P. C.; Parnell, J. A. N.; Slik, J. W. F. (2011). "Wallace's Line and plant distributions: Two or three phytogeographical areas and where to group Java?". Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 103 (3): 531.  
  2. ^ Wallace 1863, p. 231.
  3. ^  
  4. ^ Camerini, Jane R. (1993). "Evolution, Biogeography, and Maps". Isis 84: 700–727. 
  5. ^ Mayr, E. (1944), "Wallace's Line in the Light of Recent Zoogeographic Studies", The Quarterly Review of Biology 19 (1): 1–14,  

Further reading

  • van Oosterzee, Penny (1997). Where Worlds Collide: the Wallace Line.
  • Pleistocene Sea Level Maps
  • Wallacea - a transition zone from Asia to Australia, specially rich in marine life and on land.
  • Dawkins, Richard (2004). The Ancestor's Tale. Weidenfeld & Nicolson. ISBN 0-7538-1996-1. Chapter 14 - Marsupials.
  • Abdullah, M. T. (2003). Biogeography and variation of Cynopterus brachyotis in Southeast Asia. PhD thesis. The University of Queensland, St Lucia, Australia.
  • Hall, L. S., Gordon G. Grigg, Craig Moritz, Besar Ketol, Isa Sait, Wahab Marni and M. T. Abdullah (2004). "Biogeography of fruit bats in Southeast Asia". Sarawak Museum Journal LX(81):191-284.
  • Wallace, Alfred Russel (1863). "On the Physical Geography of the Malay Archipelago". Royal Geographical Society 7: 205–212.  with the original paper
  • Wilson D. E., D. M. Reeder (2005). Mammal species of the world. Washington DC: Smithsonian Institution Press.

External links

  • Too Many Lines; The Limits of the Oriental and Australian Zoogeographic Regions George Gaylord Simpson, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 121, No. 2 (Apr. 29, 1977), pp. 107–120
  • Wallacea Research Group
  • Map of Wallace's, Weber's and Lydekker's lines
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