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Critique of parsimony analysis of endemicity as a method of historical biogeography

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Abstract Aim 

Assess the value of parsimony analysis of endemism as either an a priori (cladistic) and an a posteriori (phylogenetic) method of historical biogeography. Location 

World-wide. Methods 

Parsimony analysis of endemicity (PAE) and Brooks parsimony analysis (BPA). Results 

Parsimony analysis of endemicity is capable of finding correct and unambiguous area relationships only under scenarios of vicariance in combination with non-response to vicariance or extinction. An empirical comparison between PAE and BPA, using the poeciliid fish genera Heterandria and Xiphophorus, demonstrates that PAE fails to document much of the historical complexity in this relatively simple system. Main conclusions 

The a priori assumptions of PAE are far more restrictive than those made by other a priori methods, limiting its utility as a method of cladistic biogeography. The inability of PAE to detect perfect vicariance or biogeographical histories involving dispersal, renders it unsuitable as a method of phylogenetic biogeography.

Keywords: Brooks parsimony analysis; Heterandria; Historical biogeography; Xiphophorus; a priori assumptions; extinction; parsimony analysis of endemicity; reticulated area relationships; vicariance

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Biosystematics Group, Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands

Publication date: June 1, 2003


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