Wallacea is a triangular-shaped area in the middle of the Indo-Australian Archipelago that was delimited by Roy Ernest Dickerson and colleagues (1928) in a collaborative volume on the distribution of plants and animals of the Philippine Archipelago. Chris Humphries pointed out that a rigorous analysis that proposed a testable hypothesis of area relationships, an area classification, was needed but had never been executed. To Humphries, Wallacea was part of the descriptive and narrative phase of biogeography. The analytical phase of biogeography in which areas are defined and diagnosed rigorously and testable hypotheses of relationships among areas are proposed had yet to be broached. The Sunda Shelf (west of Wallace's Line) and the Sahul Shelf (east of Weber's Line) were home to readily identifiable endemic biotas. Humphries posed a three-area problem: what are the relationships among Wallacaea, Sundaland, and Papualand? The basic units of biogeographic analysis should be areas of endemism — areas circumscribed by taxa, not solely geography. This chapter also looks at the monophyly of Wallacea and the systematic biogeography of Subregion A.
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