natural units in biogeography

John Grehan jrg13 at PSU.EDU
Tue Apr 27 08:09:02 CDT 1999

Peter Hovenkamp's assertion that  "Natural classification" has no meaning
in biogeography represents a fundamental difference between our respective

I agree that evolution of biogeographic histories is not the same thing
as evolution of organisms, but I do not see that more than one context
may be applied to evolution. Biota's have a history and a system of units
and classification that reflects that history is, to my understanding,
a natural classification. The units and classification tell us something about
the evolution of the real world.

>One alternative is, simply, not to expect biogeographic units to be
>non-arbitrary. Arbitrary units may be very useful in a variety of contexts
>- just as arbitrary classifications of biological objects are very useful
>in many situations (root vegetables vs. leaf vegetables, fruits vs. nuts,

As mentioned in another posting, usefulness or utility is an arbitrary and
artificial concept. In biology someone might find it useful to construct a
in which bats and birds were grouped together. However useful, such a
grouping would have little to do with origin and history (the natural

>Another is to accept my proposal not to use areas,

I would agree with this since my position is that all area units are

but instead concentrate
>on their boundaries,

If the areas are artificats so to are their boundaries. Interestingly the
of Wallace are biogeographic boundaries in panbiogeography.

John Grehan

More information about the Taxacom mailing list