Systematics, Historical Ecology, and North American Freshwater Fishes
"This book addresses the current need for a holistic approach in comparative and evolutionary biology and offers numerous applications of the modern methods of phylogenetic systematics and historical ecology, using the North American fish fauna as its case study. This major synthesis, the first published work of its kind, provides a theoretical and methodological foundation for future studies in ichthyology, evolutionary biology, and other fields of comparative biology." "Several introductory pieces present major statements of general principles, detailed examinations of the diversity and distributions of North American freshwater fishes, and what is known of their systematic relationships. The rest of the volume's 30 papers then contribute new phylogenetic hypotheses for a significant number of taxa. Along the way, the reader is introduced to the principles, first, of phylogenetic systematics - the reconstruction of evolutionary or ancestor-descendant relationships of groups of organisms on the basis of heritable traits - and, second, of historical ecology - a comprehensive research program that links systematics with many areas of comparative biology. Together, the two allow for the formulation of direct and testable hypotheses regarding the evolution of species and their attributes, interspecies interactions, and the formation and persistence of biotic communities. Without these methods that incorporate "historical controls," our estimates of history for all areas of biology are inefficient, indirect, and worst of all, untestable." "This book focuses on North American freshwater fishes not only because the 42 contributors know them so well but also because this highly diverse fauna is well known in so many important aspects (diversity, species distributions, life histories) relevant to evaluating general applications of the new paradigms of systematics and historical ecology. Many other faunas present interesting biotas appropriate for the preparation of a similar piece of work, but no other fauna can claim as complete a knowledge base." "The theme articulated throughout the book underscores the Darwinian proposition of descent with modification. The biological information particular to the North American freshwater fish fauna establishes an invaluable foundation for understanding diversification and advancing education and research. Moreover, the methods, theories, and empirical data presented serve as essential resources for comparative and evolutionary research programs applicable to any biota or taxonomic grouping." "The book includes some 200 illustrations, 60 tables, 10 appendixes, and comprehensive taxonomic and subject indexes."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved
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