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

D.R. Brooks, M.G.P. van Veller

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

80 Citations (Scopus)


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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)819-825
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Publication statusPublished - 2003


  • vicariance biogeography
  • area relationships
  • a-posteriori
  • speciation
  • evolution
  • dispersal
  • associations
  • assumption-2
  • coevolution
  • parasites

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