While doing research today, I noticed that the tulip tree genus, Liriodendron, has only two representatives: one in the US and part of Canada, and one in China/Vietnam. This wouldn’t strike me as unusual if not for the fact that there’s another genus with its only two species in these locations: Alligator, with the American Alligator in the US and the Chinese Alligator in China (duh).
So: does anyone know what geographic/biological phenomena caused these odd distributions? Is it the same for both organisms, or just a coincidence? And are there other examples of species/genera/family/etc. which only have representatives in North America and China? It doesn’t have to be just two species.
There are loads of examples, from Sassafras to Symplocarpus to Podophyllum. I don’t know the specific histories of any of them, but many times it has to do with the same reason humans are found in both china and in the Americas- they migrated from Asia into the Americas fairly recently, and just haven’t had a lot of time to undergo speciation. Other times they just happen to be the sole survivors after the ice age, etc.
I can’t say I know much about biogeography, but I mostly just wanted to post this youtube video you might find interesting: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W94Rth-aIkc
This is a well-known phenomenon called the Eastern Asian–Eastern North American biogeographic disjunction. There are papers and books that talk about it and you can find a lot of good info and hypotheses if you dig a little bit into the literature. It has also come up in this thread before.
I knew a prof that did botany in China and he said the forest felt like an eastern forest. It was interesting
same goes for waxwings, although they’re found in Japan instead of China
Sassafras albidum – Eastern U.S.
Sassafras tzumu – Southeastern China
Sassafras randaiensis – Taiwan
And here’s a twist: two maple species with compound (“ash-like”) leaves instead of the usual maple leaves:
Acer negundo – Eastern North America
Acer griseum – Central China
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