Galapagos, biogeography, geology

John R. Grehan jrg13 at PSU.EDU
Tue Apr 16 10:30:59 CDT 2002

A couple of recent comments on the origin of the Galapagos focused on
geological reconstructions having priority over biogeographic evidence.
This points to one of the most intriguing aspects of biogeography as
practiced by most biogeographers who look to geological theory as the
foundation for historical reconstruction.

It seems to me that this practice renders biogeography as simply making up
historical stories (usually based on some kind of notion of center of
origin and dispersal) conforming to the geological story. In this context
biogeography does not exist as a science. What is intriguing about this
(for me) is the apparent willingness of most biogeographers to reduce their
discipline to the status of a non-science. At least that's how it seems to me.

This biogeographic practice seems unique in that I am not aware of any
other scientific discipline relying entirely on another discipline for
empirical insight. The irony for the Galapagos is that traditional
biogeographers who relied on geology theories as the historical authority
failed to acknowledge these models as simply theories or that there may be
a  multiplicity of geological theories in circulation.

John Grehan

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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