Cosmopolitan distribution

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Orcinus orca and its range

In biogeography, a taxon is said to have a cosmopolitan distribution if its range extends across all or most of the world in appropriate habitats; at the opposite extreme is endemism.

Ancient and modern[edit]

Cosmopolitan distributions can be observed both in extinct and extant species. For example, Lystrosaurus was cosmopolitan in the Early Triassic after a mass extinction.[1]

In the modern world, the killer whale has a cosmopolitan distribution, extending over most of the Earths's oceans. The wasp Copidosoma floridanum is another example, as it is found around the world. Other examples include humans, cats, the foliose lichen Parmelia sulcata, and the mollusc genus Mytilus.[2] The term can also apply to some diseases. It may result from a broad range of environmental tolerances[3][4] or from rapid dispersal compared to the time needed for evolution.[5]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sahney, S. and Benton, M.J. (2008). "Recovery from the most profound mass extinction of all time" (PDF). Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological 275 (1636): 759–65. doi:10.1098/rspb.2007.1370. PMC 2596898. PMID 18198148. 
  2. ^ Ian F. Spellerberg & John William David Sawyer, ed. (1999). "Ecological patterns and types of species distribution". An Introduction to Applied Biogeography. Cambridge University Press. pp. 108–132. ISBN 978-0-521-45712-5. 
  3. ^ S. Kustanowich (1963). "Distribution of planktonic foraminifera in surface sediments of the south-west Pacific". New Zealand Journal of Geology and Geophysics 6 (4): 534–565. doi:10.1080/00288306.1963.10420065. 
  4. ^ D. B. Williams (1971). "The distribution of marine dinoflagellates in relation to physical and chemical conditions". In B. M. Funnell & W. R. Riedel. The Micropalaeontology of Oceans: Proceedings of the Symposium held in Cambridge from 10 to 17 September 1967 under the title 'Micropalaeontology of Marine Bottom Sediments'. Cambridge University Press. pp. 91–95. ISBN 978-0-521-18748-0. 
  5. ^ Judit Padisák (2005). "Phytoplankton". In Patrick E. O'Sullivan & Colin S. Reynolds. Limnology and Limnetic Ecology. The Lakes Handbook 1. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 251–308. ISBN 978-0-632-04797-0.