Phylogenetic Comparative Methods
Luke J. Harmon
Copyright Year: 2019
ISBN 13: 9781719584463
Publisher: Luke J. Harmon
Conditions of Use
The text does a very nice job of guiding the reader from simpler to more complex analytical tools used in the field of comparative phylogenetic methods. While keeping with complex models and statistical methods, the text nicely captures the range... read more
The text does a very nice job of guiding the reader from simpler to more complex analytical tools used in the field of comparative phylogenetic methods. While keeping with complex models and statistical methods, the text nicely captures the range of possible comparative methods with accessible language. I appreciate the author's use of literature and direct references to much more detailed, and often inaccessible to students, literature. The book has an index that is quite useful, but one has to read through the most of the text to understand how concepts build on one another. Each chapter has an end-summary that puts the chapter in context, reiterating its importance and guiding the reader forward.
The text incorporates both historical and up-to-date studies that help put concepts into context. It presents topics logically, recognizes limitations in what will be and will not be discussed, and provides enough cited references for readers to delve into the literature if they so wish. Given these thoughtful inclusions, the text does not appear biased, and content is based on scholarly articles and other resources, rather than personal opinion.
The interplay between classic works and updated studies in the field of phylogenetic systematics is very well done. The author provides countless examples of where the field was, where it is, and where it may be headed. Thus, I see this text as a timeless addition to the field, and one that captures the complexities of the field without overwhelming the reader. Any future updates should be easy to accomplish, but the text is a great resource in its current form.
I am impressed with the author's ability to take fairly inaccessible language and make it relevant to both researchers and students. It will not be easy to assign this to students who have no background, but is a great resource that brings together all of comparative phylogenetics in one place. The jargon and terminology are both complex, but this is a necessary evil of the field. The text, however, is not inaccessible, and when jargon is used, it is defined and put in context.
The text is very well written and is comprehensive. Chapters build well, and the author references prior chapters throughout, in case readers need to revisit other ideas. It is clear that the author built a resource that is not just a random assortment of ideas; it is a work that brings together many ideas into a central resource for both professionals and novices to the field.
The text can be divided into smaller "chunks" that can serve as modules for teaching purposes, but it will be difficult for a reader to jump into an advanced chapter without reading prior chapters. Certain concepts and ideas are referenced throughout the text and urges the reader to revisit earlier chapters, but this is not disruptive. Rather, it reinforces the idea that the text is a comprehensive guide that builds from simple to more complex analytical methods. There are, at times, large chunks of text, but those are usually interrupted with images or equations.
The text builds from simple to complex analytical methods, and the author does a fine job of restating the connections and evolution of these methods through time and with different data sets.
The text has no noticeable interface issues or navigation problems. The PDF version does have a lot of unnecessary white space, however.
The text contains no grammatical errors; it is very well written.
Since this is a highly technical text that is focused on methods, there is no inclusion of cultural or social issues that would offend readers.
This is a fantastic resource! I am excited to use it in an upper-level course, and will easily be able to use sections or snapshots of the text for the kinds of questions we explore.
This wonderful and timely text is extremely comprehensive, at least at the macroevolutionary scale (less attention given to population-level processes even though some of these overlap with research inquiry at the macroevolutionary level, such as... read more
This wonderful and timely text is extremely comprehensive, at least at the macroevolutionary scale (less attention given to population-level processes even though some of these overlap with research inquiry at the macroevolutionary level, such as dynamics of hybridization. The text, however, lacks an index as well as a glossary. In a traditional printed text book, indices are among the most important components but for a digital text, they become less relevant with the capacity to search for terms. A great feature of this book is the capacity to download it as a PDF and read through it offline.
Harmon’s contribution is solidly grounded in content accuracy, supplemented by generous use of equations, graphs, and real-world research programs. Accordingly, he provided readers with extensive references to primary literature. The text is also written from a perspective that certainly includes opinions of the author, but these opinions are those largely shared by the community of comparative macroevolutionists at large.
Harmon's Phylogenetic Comparative Methods presents a series of analytical approaches that are highly relevant to today’s research. He presents these approaches from a conceptual/theoretical perspective that will make them highly relevant for the long haul, not just another year or two from now. Moreover, his chapters will be easy to add to / modify in coming years, as new methods come online. I very much appreciated the historical context provided in Chapter 1 followed by the future outlooks covered in his Summary.
The content is extremely lucid and accessible, but primarily to an audience of scientists and advanced students. A layperson might have difficulties reading and digesting it.
No issues with consistency or clarity - this book is written in a language that is easily digestible to a broad audience of (academic) users!
Harmon's parsing of content across 12 chapters makes this textbook appropriately modular and able to be "consumed" in several, stand-alone learning sessions.
Harmon's book covers the key topics in comparative evolutionary biology and organizes them into series of well-defined and appropriate chapter headers.
I find little in the way of serious errors throughout any of Harmon's chapters.
I cannot confirm that there isn't a single grammatical error anywhere in the book, however a read of several chapters in detail and heavy perusal of remaining sections did not reveal extensive grammatical errors.
This text is a scientific text and does its job to steer clear of an insensitive or offensive content.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1 - A Macroevolutionary Research Program
- Chapter 2 - Fitting Statistical Models to Data
- Chapter 3 - Introduction to Brownian Motion
- Chapter 4 - Fitting Brownian Motion
- Chapter 5 - Multivariate Brownian Motion
- Chapter 6 - Beyond Brownian Motion
- Chapter 7 - Models of discrete character evolution
- Chapter 8 - Fitting models of discrete character evolution
- Chapter 9 - Beyond the Mk model
- Chapter 10 - Introduction to birth-death models
- Chapter 11 - Fitting birth-death models
- Chapter 12 - Beyond birth-death models
- Chapter 13 - Characters and diversification rates
- Chapter 14 - Summary
About the Book
This is a book about Phylogenetic Comparative Methods by Luke J. Harmon.
About the Contributors
Luke J. Harmon