Problems with Astrobiology

Astrobiology is a field of science that investigates the origin and evolution of life, and its possible permutations elsewhere in the universe. As far as the former aspect is concerned, it is not at all an original research program. Most of what counts as astrobiological research is routine abiogenesis research, historical geology, …

Top 2016 Phylogenetics Book

This is my top phylogenetics book published in 2016, a book that fits in with my latest research interests: Phylogenies in Ecology. YMMV. Included is the text blurb; personal review available on request! Want more book recommendations? Check out the other top 2016 book lists: Zoology; Invertebrates; Arthropods; Vertebrates; Humans …

RIP Niels Peder Kristensen (1943-2014)

Sad news for entomologists, entomological systematists, and lepidopterists: Professor Niels Peder Kristensen died on December 6th. His staff page contains all his biographical information. He spent the majority of his career in the prodigial Zoological Museum of the University of Copenhagen (now Natural History Museum of Copenhagen), where he did very …

The Supertree Method

Supertrees are phylogenies reconstructed by stitching together many smaller phylogenies, allowing us to gain a coarser view useful for looking at higher-order systematics. When we say “we’re going to build a tree of all life”, we usually mean “we’re going to build a supertree of life”, because it’s more computationally-efficient …

The Utility of Phenetics

I talked about phenetic methodology in this post. I was relatively charitable towards phenetics, which has led to some readers thinking that I endorse phenetics, when I’m a dye-in-the-wool strict cladist, because cladistics is the only method that makes sense of biodiversity, as explained a few paragraphs down. The previous …