[Taxacom] panbiogeography critique

John Grehan jgrehan at sciencebuff.org
Mon Jun 29 13:25:46 CDT 2009

Michael Heads will no doubt later respond as he sees fit and perhaps better than I, but I will offer comment on some points (others get a bit fuzzy and I am not quite sure what Ivie is arguing).

1) Pierre Jolivet. The trouble with Ivie's response is that the intial comment was a bit obscure. By saying are you kidding? implies that the suggestion is not to be taken seriously. Head's reference to the venue was only to show that he is still active - noth that he was an authority by that publication venue.

2) Hundreds of publications: I would agree that content is the issue concerning validity. But Ivie has not managed to present anything to invalidate the accomplishments of panbiogeography other than rhetorical dismissals such as 'accidents'or the acceptance of claims by others.

I read the reference to hundreds of papers to indicate that unlike Ivie, many do not consider panbiogeography ridiculous, particularly to the south of the Rio Grande. True it is still a minority and of itself has nothing to do with the necessary validity of panbiogeography.

4) Cracraft may criticise panbiogeography but he utilizes its principles nevertheless.

5) Conclusions vs hypotheses. Say it either way. Many scintific articles produce 'conclusions' so the error identified by Ivie is widespread. All panbiogeoraphic conclusions are open to testing. Croizat's 1958 conclusion that the Galapagos was associated with a major tectonic center was tested by subsequent tectonic analysis that coroborated his conclusion/hypothesis. No other biogeographic approach to the Galapagos was able to predict the tectonic fact.

6) I would be interested to see Ivie present his logic and evidence to support the hypothesis that Jamaica was populated by individual propagules that would allow, via founder effect, open niches and selective pressure, rapid evolution of highly differentiated forms. 

In what way is the biogeography of Jamaica very different from vicariant faunae (such as?) of the other, older, Greater Antilles. Is the argument that Jamaica is geolgoically younger so it must have a biolgoically younger biota as well?


> -----Original Message-----
> From: mivie at montana.edu [mailto:mivie at montana.edu]
> Sent: Monday, June 29, 2009 1:29 PM
> To: michael.heads at yahoo.com
> Cc: John Grehan; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] panbiogeography critique
> Dear Michael,
> You seem like a nice person, and well-meaning, and have interesting ideas,
> but there are some marginalia that just require answers.
> Jumping beyond (or lateral to) the actual data is a problem that needs to
> be dealt with, as are the non sequiturs that seem to distract you.
> 1) I never said anything about ignoring Pierre Jolivet, and again, you use
> the venue (Mol. Phylogen. Evol.) of a paper as some sort of indicator of
> importance. Panbiogeographers often fall for this "validation by
> authority" argument, but it is totally invalid. The CONTENT is what is
> important, not the VENUE nor the AUTHORITY.

> 2) Further to that mindset, you mention there are "now hundreds of
> publications dealing with panbiogeography" and, I might add thousands of
> papers dealing with creationism, but this does not validate either.  There
> are tens of thousand of non-panbiogeography papers using other
> biogeography methods, but that does not make them valid either.  IT IS
> CONTENT of the specific paper that counts -- this is not an election, nor
> a beauty contest -- it is SCIENCE.

> 3) Nothing Haile Selassie said has anything to do with the beliefs of the
> Rastafari (also known as Rastafarians -- sort of like nothing Jesus said
> has anything to do with wars started by Christians). You are obviously
> confused here, and should not delve into non sequiturs that you do not
> understand -- it does not help your reputation. This one is my fault, but
> continuing to be worried about what was simply a bad (and from a
> culturally narrow context) joke is rather off the issue.
> 4) Cracraft in the review cited and in other works supports what makes
> sense and can be scientifically utilized --  so what?  He is just doing
> what most scientists do everyday.  While that is laudable, it should be
> normal.  That single cited example of published exposure of the errors of
> panbiogeography does not rely on the AUTHORITY of Joel Cracraft, but the
> excellence of his logic.  There are many others, they are easy to find,
> and I did not need to bother people with many when one served the purpose.
>  To try to distract the audience with discussions of Cracraft as an
> AUTHORITY does nothing to add to the discussion. Cracraft has made errors,
> he is human, and therefore each paper must be read and evaluated like any
> others.
> 5) Lastly (for this series), science does not produce conclusions,  it
> produces testable hypotheses.  Your own statement "One of the main
> conclusions of panbiogeography," shows which camp it is in.
> As for West Indian biogeography, the problems are many and well known.  I
> find Jamaica pretty easy to get a handle on, as the large new land area
> emerging from the sea was populated by individual propagules that would
> allow, via founder effect, open niches and selective pressure, rapid
> evolution of highly differentiated  forms.  Their oddity has resulted in
> them being recognized at high taxonomic levels (endemic genera, etc.) in
> the absence of good phylogenies that would probably not support that
> placement in a monophyletic classification. It is therefore very different
> from the older, vicariant faunae of the other, older, Greater Antilles.
> This is a terrible example of ad hoc justification and an admitted
> just-so-story, but it can be used as the starting point for refutable
> hypotheses.  It should not be cited as a supported theory, but it helps me
> through the day.
> This is a very different situation from New Caledonia, which has basal
> lineages that confound conventional wisdom, rather than terminal ones.
> The so-called West Indian disjunctions may also benefit from phylogenetic
> information to understand if, for instance, the Greater Antillean and
> Windward Island groups are related via nodes rooted on the mainland rather
> than via direct "tracks" (to use a term you understand, not to support
> panbiogeography nor steal Leon's concepts without citation).   I.E. they
> may be opposite ends of a "C" rather and an "I."
> The Barbados issue is one that has 2 problems, both of which also apply to
> Jamaica: first, the molecular clocks may be totally miscalibrated, and
> second (and most importantly, I think), there is no reason to think the
> LINEAGE that produced the Barbados population made a direct path from the
> nearest KNOWN relative on the clock and where they both occur today.
> Falling for that argument shows a total lack of understanding of both
> geology and biology.  Yet, this type of error is repeatedly brought up by
> panbiogeographers (see your own note below) much as creationists
> repeatedly cite the purported lack of intermediates to claim to invalidate
> evolution.  Either they don't understand the argument, which means they
> are simply dim, or they willfully hope to mislead in order to convert the
> uninformed.
> Lastly, repeating ad nauseum the many, many problems with current
> geological understanding; the many, many  places biology can show that the
> geologists have a long way to go; and citing the thousands of terrible
> papers on biogeography available as straw men, does nothing to validate
> the tautological problems inherent in panbiogeography.  Again, just
> because  "A" is wrong does not automatically support "B," especially when
> "C-Z" are available as alternatives. A simple, elementary logic exercise
> that has bored people since the ancient Greeks and perhaps before them.
> I do not, for the most part, lament the passing of the Classical
> Education, but I do wish we had kept required formal courses in logic.
> Michael
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > 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
> >> _______________________________________________
> >>
> >> Taxacom Mailing List
> >> Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> >> http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
> >>
> >> The Taxacom archive going back to 1992 may be searched with either of
> >> these methods:
> >>
> >> (1) http://taxacom.markmail.org
> >>
> >> Or (2) a Google search specified as:
> >> site:mailman.nhm.ku.edu/pipermail/taxacom  your search terms here
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> >
> > Taxacom Mailing List
> > Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> > http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
> >
> > The Taxacom archive going back to 1992 may be searched with either of
> > these methods:
> >
> > (1) http://taxacom.markmail.org
> >
> > Or (2) a Google search specified as:
> > site:mailman.nhm.ku.edu/pipermail/taxacom  your search terms here
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> >
> > Taxacom Mailing List
> > Taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> > http://mailman.nhm.ku.edu/mailman/listinfo/taxacom
> >
> > The Taxacom archive going back to 1992 may be searched with either of
> > these methods:
> >
> > (1) http://taxacom.markmail.org
> >
> > Or (2) a Google search specified as:
> > site:mailman.nhm.ku.edu/pipermail/taxacom  your search terms here
> >
> >
> >

More information about the Taxacom mailing list