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What Is Biodiversity?$
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James Maclaurin and Kim Sterelny

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780226500805

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: February 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226500829.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 18 September 2021

Disparity and Diversity

Disparity and Diversity

(p.42) 3 Disparity and Diversity
What Is Biodiversity?

Maclaurin James

Sterelny Kim

University of Chicago Press

This chapter, which considers the idea that tracking species number does not track a second important dimension of biodiversity—phenotypic richness—focuses on the claim that diversity (species number) does not track disparity (variation across phenotypes). A biota can be species rich but not very disparate, if the species composing the biota are rather similar. Arguably, many island faunas are more diverse than disparate, for they often derive from a few founder species, and this constrains the variation that evolves. Stephen Jay Gould made this diversity–disparity distinction famous in his 1989 classic Wonderful Life, and it has generated ongoing controversy. The chapter develops his take on the Cambrian and its significance in more detail; explains the importance of the issues he raises; and outlines some of the challenges to his view. It also sketches recent developments in understanding the Cambrian, and their implications for the Gouldian picture.

Keywords:   biodiversity, species number, phenotypic richness, Stephen Jay Gould, Cambrian

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