[Taxacom] panbiogeography critique

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Mon Jun 29 07:35:08 CDT 2009


I also thought Robin's observations were on the mark. I have found that quite a few biogeographers think panbiogeographically and apply panbiogeographic principles and even methods even though they may not be aware of it. 

I will be interested to see Michael Ivies comments on Heads' constructive posting about Caribbean biogeography, and island biogeography in particular.

John Grehan



> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu [mailto:taxacom-
> bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of michael.heads at yahoo.com
> Sent: Sunday, June 28, 2009 11:39 PM
> To: Robin Leech
> Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] panbiogeography critique
> 
> 
> Dear Robin,
> 
> That's a CLASSIC example! And I think your resolution of the 'conflicting'
> geology and biology, using dynamic refugia, makes perfect sense.
>    A century ago geologists concluded that the South Island of New Zealand
> was completely covered by a Pleistocene ice sheet. The biogeographers
> replied that this was very unlikely because of all the distinctive
> endemics. The complete ice sheet theory didn't survive, but now we are
> repeating the same debate. Over the last five years some  geologists have
> argued that New Zealand was completely submerged by marine flooding...
> Again, biogeographers replied that this didn't make sense (and the total
> submersion people are now backtracking, cf. Trewick, intro to the Darwin
> issue of Phil Trans Roy Soc. 2008).
> 
>    Some geologists also argue that New Caledonia was completely submerged
> by the sea in the Oligocene but this small island has truly staggering
> endemism, e.g. five (!) endemic plant families including the basal
> angiosperm Amborella (see my paper in J. Biogeogr. 2008). Jamaica is
> also supposed to have been completely submerged in the Tertiary despite
> plenty of endemism, strange disjunctions in taxa with poor means of
> dispersal etc.
> 
> In all these cases there obviously was a marine transgression - but was it
> complete? To prove that you would have to have a continuous sequence of
> limestone all over the island for at least one point in time, which of
> course is not the case. In these areas, unlike the centre of a
> continent, the tectonics are very dynamic on a local scale, with uplifts
> and subsidences affecting areas just tens of metres across. Very small
> islets will not preserve cursorial mammals etc. but especially in the
> tropics they can maintain surprisingly diverse biotas of plants,
> invertebrates, birds, reptiles, etc. The islets may have occurred within
> the limits of modern New Caledonia, Jamaica etc. or they may have been
> nearby. In many cases they may have been destroyed completely (by
> subsidence, erosion, extension etc.).
> 
>  The main thing is to take the biology seriously. If you simply accept
> what the geologists say as The Truth (along with 'chance dispersal'), you
> just short-circuit the whole enterprise of biogeography. In any case,
> ideas on geology change, sometimes in surprising ways...
> 
>  Can you give me the reference to your work on Ellesmere I.? This is the
> sort of example that should be pointed out to the many molecular workers
> who calibrate incredibly sophisticated phylogenies with incredibly naive
> geology/ecology.
> 
> 
> Michael Heads
> 
> Wellington, New Zealand.
> 
> My papers on biogeography are at: http://tiny.cc/RiUE0
> 
> --- On Mon, 6/29/09, Robin Leech <releech at telus.net> wrote:
> 
> 
> From: Robin Leech <releech at telus.net>
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] panbiogeography critique
> To: michael.heads at yahoo.com
> Cc: taxacom-request at mailman.nhm.ku.edu, "John Grehan"
> <jgrehan at SCIENCEBUFF.ORG>
> Date: Monday, June 29, 2009, 2:03 PM
> 
> 
> Hi Michael,
> 
> In 1963 and 1964, I was up on the northern end of Ellesmere Island at Lake
> Hazen. I was studying the spiders there (13 spp.).  The surficial
> (Wisconsinan) geological reports for the area from the Geological Survey
> of Canada, written by Robert Christie, reported that every single bit of
> the northern part of Ellesmere Island, and also Pearyland on northern
> Greenland, had been glaciated during the Wisconsinan glaciation.
> Now, Eric Hultein published on the botany of the Canadian Arctic, and
> recorded several places as refugia during the Wisconsinan, and that one of
> them was in the northern Ellesmere Island-Pearyland in Greenland area.
> Interestingly, I found that some of the spiders there, including the
> largest species of wolf spider that far north, were strictly a high-Arctic
> species.
> 
> How do we marry these two conflicting pieces of science and fact?
> 
> I did it by the concept of a "wandering refugium".
> That is, at no time was ALL of the northern part of Ellesmere Island
> covered all the time,
> but over time, all the land had been covered - but not all at the same
> time.
> 
> I proposed that as ice rarely moves very quickly, and
> 1) that as often there are bare patches within a glacier and between
> glaciers, and
> 2) that sometimes there are huge rugs of soil, plants, bushes and trees
> atop glaciers,
> that the refugia (sometimes only a few hundred metres across, but often
> several kilometres across) moved here and there as different glaciers
> moved forward then retreated, but always leaving some bare ground.
> 
> I think it was carabidologist Carl Lindroth who studies carabid beetles
> right up against glaciers - this is where there is moisture, so plants,
> food, and insect life exist in abundance.  Thus the flora and fauna were
> able to accommodate the glaciers shifting and advancing and retreating,
> even those biota living right at
> the glaciers' edges.
> 
> I wonder if some of the species of lizards that appear to be older species
> than the islands they live on can be explained by something similar?  For
> example,
> what about another island that HAD been near by, but which subsequently
> sank (gradually), leaving the lizards time to swim or float to nearby
> newer islands?
> Maybe we should be looking for evidence of older sunken islands near these
> newer islands?  After all, these areas were very volcanically active for a
> long time.
> 
> Robin Leech
> 
> ----- Original Message ----- From: <michael.heads at yahoo.com>
> To: "John Grehan" <jgrehan at sciencebuff.org>
> Cc: <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> Sent: Sunday, June 28, 2009 6:50 PM
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] panbiogeography critique
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 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
> as
> > non-comparable. If you want someone to compare to, Trofim Lysenko is
> a
> > better example given the players.
> >
> >
> > Dr. Ivie - can I politely cut into the exciting fray and vehemently
> object
> > to your overreaching comparisons?
> >
> > Lysenko, whose name may be less known to the young people on the
> Taxacom,
> > besides being a quack, was an avid and criminal henchman of a dictator
> > Stalin, personally guilty in suppression, misery, exile, imprisonment
> and
> > 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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