Is biogeography science?

John R. Grehan jrg13 at PSU.EDU
Fri Apr 26 12:17:32 CDT 2002

I wrote in an earlier positing:

>Correct. My intention was to draw attention to biogeography that relies on
>other sciences to reconstruct the past being uninformative with respect to
>biogeographic method.

Perhaps I should add some further clarification as I wonder if my meaning
is clear. I certainly do not mean to imply that biogeography can
reconstruct geological history in its detail as naturally a biogeographer
is not working with analysis of rocks. Panbiogeographic reconstructions
have incorporated historical geological models in generating historical
scenarios as have other biogeographers. However, the question arises in
biogeography as to which geological scenario may a particular distribution
be associated.

The baseline technique is a method of assigning a correlation between a
distribution and earth history features as a spatial (biogeographic)
criterion for selecting a particular geographic sector of the earth as
being historically associated with the evolution of a distribution. This
correlation indicates which historical scenarios generated by other
sciences to consider. Spatial correlations between different tracks and
with tectonic features may led to predictions about the geological history
of an area that may conflict with some or all the current geological
scenarios. This research anomaly highlights the need for further
investigation rather than the biogeography just being 'wrong' ( as Barry
Cox and Ernst Mayr etc. would contend).

As I keep repeating ad nauseam, one may debate the merits of the
panbiogeographic approach from methodological or philosophical points of
view, but such discussions that overlook the fact that panbiogeography has
been able to generate novel geological predictions would be missing the
boat I think.

I've now reached my limit on daily allowable postings so no more from me today.

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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