FW: Islands, Science and Creationism

Curtis Clark jcclark at CSUPOMONA.EDU
Tue Apr 16 16:45:58 CDT 2002


At 10:04 2002-04-16, Janice Koler-Matznick wrote:
>And to complicate matters, humans have been translocating animals and plants
>from place to place by water transport since at least 11,000 BP
>(archaeological evidence from fox, Urocyon littoralis, Channel Islands, CA,
>USA ) to 22,000 BP (evidence from eastern Pacific islands).  I would bet
>they also transported small animals and plants over land during migrations
>for the same reasons, probably because they were important for use in
>rituals or were a traditional food item.

This and Richard's view touch on a key issue, that parallels a key issue in
angiosperm phylogenetics:

Verne Grant, in the last edition of _Plant Speciation_, suggested that
hybridization was so rampant among flowering plants that we would never
know their phylogeny. One could erect three wayposts along a continuum of
"problematic":

1. Noise completely swamps signal (hybridization completely obscures
phylogeny).
2. Special techniques must be used to extract the signal from the noise.
3. Signal is so great that noise is unimportant.

In my studies of hybridization, and in what I take from the studies of
others, (2) is the best estimate of the situation.

If I hyberbolize from posts on Taxacom, "human effects, chance dispersal,
and a variety of evolutionary origins will keep us from ever understanding
biogeography." The same three wayposts:

1. Noise completely swamps signal (biogeography can never be a science).
2. Special techniques must be used to extract the signal from the noise.
3. Signal is so great that noise is unimportant.

I'm not sure anyone argues (3). I think I, John, and at least some
vicariance biogeographers would argue for (2). John seems to know what
special techniques are necessary (although IMO he has been rather
unsuccessful in conveying them). I'm far less certain about the techniques,
but, just as I am unwilling to give up on phylogenetics, I am unwilling to
give up on biogeography. I am certain that if everyone believes something
is unknowable, they will never know it.


--
Curtis Clark                  http://www.csupomona.edu/~jcclark/
Biological Sciences Department             Voice: (909) 869-4062
California State Polytechnic University      FAX: (909) 869-4078
Pomona CA 91768-4032  USA                  jcclark at csupomona.edu




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