more on biogeographic memory

John R. Grehan jrg13 at PSU.EDU
Thu Oct 18 12:39:43 CDT 2001


As a general observation on the recent conversations it is beyond doubt
that panbiogeography remains a problematic perspective for many biogeographers.
Whether this is something in the order of a 'paradigm shift' or something more
mundane is an issue that some will no doubt debate over time. The related
matter
of citation is itself something that may involve different perspectives. On
one level it
is impossible I think to cite everything and anything that may be relevant
to a particular
purpose. I know I make choices on citations and some no doubt may be second
guessed,
even by myself.

On the larger question of dealing with a particular issue or subject the
choices become more critical when there are fundamentally different
perspectives involved. If one is doing, for example, an explicitly
dispersalist, or vicariance cladistics study that has results that are
intended to have meaning only in the context of that study, perhaps
acknowledgement or citation of the 'other' (e.g. Croizat) is not warranted.
If however, the approach chosen is to address a general question (e.g. the
origin and evolution of a particular group or particular area) the
existence of alternatives become relevant issues, and omission becomes
problematic and open to critique (for or against).

In the case of panbiogeography there has been (and continues to be)
extensive and pervasive selective omission - justified or not - that have
significant consequences for progress in the discipline of biogeography in
general. It is still possible to see phrases in the literature referring to
a distribution as 'puzzling,' 'unusual,' 'inexplicable' etc. while either
being completely ignorant of, or resistant to, the fact that the particular
examples conform to standard biogeographic patterns.

Beyond biogeography in the traditional sense is are the issues of
evolutionary biology for which panbiogeography has had so much to say and
here the role of selective omission is very apparent. Classic examples are
Ernst May and Stephen Jay Gould. Both are familiar with panbiogeography.
The former went to some lengths to pretend not to know. Omission in the
latter might be attributed to ignorance if it were not for the fact that he
glanced through Panbiogeography in graduate school and Croizat's work has
interested from that time

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
http://www.ento.psu.edu/home/Frost/index.html




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