[Taxacom] myth making in biogeography

John Grehan calabar.john at gmail.com
Sun Apr 19 10:30:46 CDT 2015

For those interested in the history of biogeography, particularly as it
pertains to the establishment of current practices I would suggest reading
 Heads 2014. Biogeography by revelation: investigating a world shaped by
miracles. Australian Systematic Botany, 2014, *27*, 282–304. This article
provides an outline of how both the development and constitution of modern
biogeography is widely based on the development of a mythology as
exemplified by De Queiroz’s recent book. In this article Heads outlines and
falsifies seven principle myths that are widely accepted as real by
dispersalist biogeographers. Hopefully there are at least some students
reading this posting who are willing to take a critical look for themselves
rather than just parrot what they have heard:

1.     The myth that panbiogeography ignores critical evidence

2.     The myth that vicariance theory was dominant in the 1970s–1990s

3.     The myth that fossils and fossil-calibrated molecular clocks provide
maximum possible ages of clades

4.     The myth that vicariance theory rejects the fossil record and clock

5.     The myth that DNA sequences ‘reveal’ long-distance dispersal

6.     The myth that distribution is chaotic

7.     The myth that chance dispersal can generate repeated patterns

 Heads’ article also provides a commentary on the islands of São Tomé and
Príncipe in relation to their tectonic context (and implications for their
amphibians), and the islands of Madagascar, Seychelles, and New Zealand
(including the Chatham Islands and Hikurangi Plateau), New Caledonia, and
Hawaiian Islands, Norfolk Island,  Falkland Islands, and *Fernando de

John Grehan

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