[Taxacom] panbiogeography critique

michael.heads at yahoo.com michael.heads at yahoo.com
Sun Jun 28 19:50:10 CDT 2009

Dear Michael and colleagues,
You ask whether I was kidding when I suggested you might read Pierre Jolivet's 2008 paper in the French journal Le Coleopteriste. The answer is no, I wasn't. Pierre has been publishing on beetles and plant/insect relations etc. since 1947. He has travelled very widely and remains very active (he had a paper in Mol. Phylogen. Evol. 34(3) 2005). I think it's a mistake to ignore these senior workers. 
    The orthodox teaching in the US still holds that panbiogeography is 'ridiculous', but south of the Rio Grande things are very different. There are now hundreds of publications dealing with panbiogeography (see the Brazilian website http://panbiog.infobio.net/bib/panbiog.htm for a bibliography).   
   In a separate letter you suggested that the rastafarians were afrocentric. I don't know about your friends in the Lesser Antilles but Ras Tafari himself, in a famous speech to the UN, argued 'That until the color of a man's skin is of no more significance than the color of his eyes... the dream of lasting peace and world citizenship and the rule of international morality will remain but a fleeting illusion, to be pursued but never attained'. This is not afrocentric. 
   You cite Cracraft's review of our book. Cracraft has indeed written critically on panbiogeogaphy, but note that he became a supporter of vicariance and in a recent paper on parrots (in Proc. Roy. Soc. London 274: 2399-2408. 2007) he is even arguing that high altitude Andean populations have been lifted up in situ, with the orogeny itself (he calls it "passive uplift"). Although this is a fundamental concept in panbiogeography he doesn't cite Croizat. (cf. Gould, who read Croizat's books,corresponded with Croizat (I have the letters),  and then 'borrowed' the ideas of punctuated evolution, 'spandrel' (non-adaptive) evolution etc. without  acknowledgment). The main thing of course is that the ideas are out there, not where they came from (they weren't original with Croizat anyway).        
   Apart from these issues, your comments on Antillean biogeography are very interesting indeed. I've never been in the Lesser Antilles but I know Jamaica quite well and in many ways the Caribbean is the geological and biological mirror image of the SW Pacific (see my paper in Biol. J. Linn Soc. 96: 222-245. 2009 on globally 'basal' groups in both areas). One of the main conclusions of panbiogeography, now being confirmed in several molecular clock studies (e.g. on Lord Howe, the Loyalties, French Polynesia etc.), is that endemics on very young islands can be very old. The age of the island seems to be irrelevant and the age of the structure producing the island (subduction zone, propagating fissure or whatever) is more important. The taxa may survive around the subduction zone or fissure as metapopulations on the individually ephemeral islands. Even orthodox molecular clock studies (Thorpe 2005) concluded that Barbados endemic lizards are
 older than the island. (It gets tricky because so many clock studies are calibrated using the assumption that island endemics can be no older than their island). More and more West Indian groups are being found to be sister to pan-American mainland groups, not nested in them as predicted in dispersal theory. Lesser Antillean groups can have diverse cosmopolitan sister groups (e.g. 'Cichlherminia' in thrushes). Geologists are at complete loggerheads over Caribbean history - one recent model has Cuba forming west of the Galapagos, another has it off the Guianas...   
   This is where biology comes in as we have so much more information (large numbers!) than the geologists. Your observations on disjunctions between the Lesser Antilles and the Greater Antilles are absolutely crucial and I'd love to see a detailed discussion of your patterns. These disjunctions (e.g. missing Puerto Rico and the northern Lesser Antilles) are common and were discussed at length by Croizat (do you know any other discussions oif this pattern??) but are now popping up in molecular studies. Just one example: the bird Myadestes genibarbis comprises endemic subspecies in  Jamaica , Hispaniola, and, disjunct,  Dominica, Martinique, St. Lucia and St Vincent.  Ricklefs & Bermingham (Am. Nat. 163, 227-239. 2004) found this distribution 'unexplainable', but they assumed a centre of origin on the mainland. Something is happening here, but they don't know what it is... 
Michael Heads   

Wellington, New Zealand .

My papers on biogeography are at: http://tiny.cc/RiUE0

--- On Mon, 6/29/09, John Grehan <jgrehan at sciencebuff.org> wrote:

From: John Grehan <jgrehan at sciencebuff.org>
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] panbiogeography critique
To: "Fet, Victor" <fet at marshall.edu>, mivie at montana.edu
Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Date: Monday, June 29, 2009, 7:31 AM

Yes, and Croizat was extremely anticommunist and apparently anti
anything coming close to it.

John Grehan

> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-
> bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Fet, Victor
> Sent: Sunday, June 28, 2009 3:25 PM
> To: mivie at montana.edu
> Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] panbiogeography critique
> >>>>>>No, it is you who miss the point, I specifically included Leon
> non-comparable.  If you want someone to compare to, Trofim Lysenko is
> better example given the players.
> Dr. Ivie - can I politely cut into the exciting fray and vehemently
> to your overreaching comparisons?
> Lysenko, whose name may be less known to the young people on the
> besides being a quack, was an avid and criminal henchman of a dictator
> Stalin, personally guilty in suppression, misery, exile, imprisonment
> death of thousands of people, including my late teacher Yuli Kerkis.
> Croizat should not be even remotely compared to such "players" even in
> jest (and I doubt that he would join Hugo Chvez to offer a Bolivarist
> biology).
> Victor Fet
> Marshall University
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