Self-censorship in bigoeography

John R. Grehan jrg13 at PSU.EDU
Mon Oct 8 11:05:07 CDT 2001

In reference to previous discussion about censorship in biogeography I draw
attention to the paper "Ancestral are analysis of Nothofagus
(Nothofagaceae) and its congruence with the fossil record" by Swenbsen,
Hill, and McLoughlin (Australian Systematic Botany 13, 469-478).

In this paper there is complete absence of acknowledgement of a
panbiogeographic perspective. This is presumably not out of ignorance since
the authors are  well acquainted with the biogeographic literature. Since
their paper is about Darwinian centers of origin one might take the view
that any contrary view is irrelevant. On the other hand, their approach is
entirely dependant on the reality of their model, so alternatives are
relevant to this question. Even though I am in disagreement with the
authors' choice of omission, I am not saying there is anything wrong in
their decision as this kind of omission is standard practice among many
Darwinian biogeographers and is therefore representative of scientific
practice that may well be justified.

Most interestingly, for me anyway, is that the authors decide that
Nothofagus is a disjunct Pacific group. In the absence of any explicit
criterion given by the authors it would seem that they used the
panbiogeographic principle of main massing and minimal spanning links to
make such an assertion.

On a related item of omission, the authors cite Swenson and Bremer's (1997)
paper on Abrotanella (Systematic Botany 22: 493-508) in support of long
distance plant dispersal as an important process in the colonization of
continental land fragments while ignoring Heads (1999) alternative
correlation of Abrotanella with terrane tectonics (Biological Journal of
the Linnean Society 67: 391-432).

John Grehan
Frost Entomological Museum
Pennsylvania State University
Department of Entomology
501 ASI Building
University Park, PA 16802. USA.

Phone: (814) 863-2865
Fax: (814) 865-3048

Frost Museum

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