Biogeography is a multidisciplinary field with multiple origins in 19th century taxonomic practice. The Origins of Biogeography presents a revised history of early biogeography and investigates the split in taxonomic practice, between the classification of taxa and the classification of vegetation. This book moves beyond the traditional belief that biogeography is born from a synthesis of Darwin and Wallace and focuses on the important pioneering work of earlier practitioners such as Zimmermann, Stromeyer, de Candolle and Humboldt. Tracing the academic history (...) of biogeography over the decades and centuries, this book recounts the early schisms in phyto and zoogeography, the shedding of its bonds to taxonomy, its adoption of an ecological framework, and its beginnings at the dawn of the 20th century. This book assesses the contributions of key figures such as Zimmermann, Humboldt and Wallace, and reminds us of the forgotten influence of plant and animal geographers including Stromeyer, Prichard and de Candolle, whose early attempts at classifying animal and plant geography would inform later progress. The Origins of Biogeography is a science historiography aimed at biogeographers, who have little access to a detailed history of the practices of early plant and animal geographers. This book will also reveal how biological classification has shaped 18th and 19th century plant and animal geography and why it is relevant to the 21st biogeographer. (shrink)
The Nature of Classification discusses an old and generally ignored issue in the philosophy of science: natural classification. It argues for classification to be a sometimes theory-free activity in science, and discusses the existence of scientific domains, theory-dependence of observation, the inferential relations of classification and theory, and the nature of the classificatory activity in general. It focuses on biological classification, but extends the discussion to physics, psychiatry, meteorology and other special sciences.
Comparative biology is afield that deals with morphology. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe recognised comparative biology, not as a passive science obsessed with counting similarities as it is today, but as an active field wherein he sought to perceive the inter-relationships of individual organisms to the organic whole, which he termed the archetype. I submit that Goethe's archetype and his application of a technique termed the Anschauung are rigorous and significant ways to conduct delicate empiricism in comparative biology. The future of (...) comparative biology lies in the use of the Anschauung to communicate the archetype as a set of inter-relationships of homologues that we perceive intuitively. In this essay I present how the extension of our own intuitive perception forms the foundations of a method for seeing and discovering the archetype in comparative biology. (shrink)
The identification of areas of endemism is essential in building an area classification, but plays little role in how natural areas are discovered. Rather area monophyly, derived from cladistics, is essential in the discovery of natural area classifications or area taxonomy. We propose Area Taxonomy to be a new sub-discipline of historical biogeography, one that can be revised and debated, and which has its own area nomenclature. Separately to area taxonomy, we outline how natural areas may be discovered by transcribing (...) the concepts of homology and monophyly from biological systematics to historical biogeography, in the form of area homologues, area homologies and area monophyly. (shrink)
In response to Quinn we identify cladistics to be about natural classifications and their discovery and thereby propose to add an eighth cladistic definition to Quinn’s list, namely the systematist who seeks to discover natural classifications, regardless of their affiliation, theoretical or methodological justifications.
During the early twentieth century, the Swiss Zoologist Adolf Naef (1883–1949) established himself as a leader in German comparative anatomy and higher level systematics. He is generally labeled an ‘idealistic morphologist’, although he himself called his research program ‘systematic morphology’. The idealistic morphology that flourished in German biology during the first half of the twentieth century was a rather heterogeneous movement, within which Adolf Naef worked out a special theoretical system of his own. Following a biographical sketch, we present an (...) English translation of a previously unpublished typescript from Naef’s estate, which Naef intended as the introduction to a textbook on Comparative Anatomy for which he was unable to find a publisher before his sudden death in 1949. The typescript contains Naef’s mature thoughts with unprecedented conciseness, focus, and clarity. The density of Naef’s text warrants a historical and contextual explication of its content. (shrink)