From Darwin onward, it has been second nature for evolutionary biologists to think comparatively because comparisons establish the generality of evolutionary phenomena. Do large genomes slow down development? What lifestyles select for large brains? Are extinction rates related to body size? These are all questions for the comparative method, and this book is about how such questions can be answered. The first chapter elaborates on suitable
questions for the comparative approach and shows how it complements other approaches to problem-solving in evolution. The second chapter identifies the biological causes of similarity among closely
related species for almost any observed character. The third chapter discusses methods for reconstructing phylogenetic trees and ancestral character states. The fourth chapter sets out to develop statistical tests that will determine whether different characters that exist in discrete states show evidence for correlated evolution. Chapter 5 turns to comparative analyses of continuously varying characters. Chapter 6 looks at allometry to exemplify the themes and methods discussed earlier, while
the last chapter looks to future development of the comparative approach in both molecular and organismic biology.
`Paul Harvey has been in the vanguard of the research that, in the past 10 years or so, has been introducing proper statistics into comparative biology. His new book with mark Pagel is an authoritative and remarkably up-to-date account of the many comparative methods which have recently been put into print. Times Higher Education Supplement
'Harvey and Pagel's compelling survey of the powerful analytical techniques currently available for the study of adaptation in a phylogenetic context provides the basis for new and deeper insights into the origin of and maintenance of organic diversity.'
Science, Vol. 254, 1991
'Certainly, this is a seminal, welcome and utterly mandatory book for anyone interested (pro or con) in the comparative study of adaptation.'
Trends in Ecology and Evolution Vol. 7, No. 2
'Was Darwin right? The authors of this earnest and useful book have long been involved in developing and testing methods to distinguish these effects. They have produced a book that will be essential reading for those faced with the problem. Lecturers will find it a gold mine of interesting examples. This in itself will make the book worthwhile for many ... the book is a major step in the comparative study of biological taxa. Evolutionists and statisticians
can learn a lot from this book.'
D. Penny, Massey University, Journal of Classification, Vol. 9, No. 1/92
'A book to be recommended for everyone interested in evolutionary biology.'
V.P. Chopra, Anthropologischer Anzeiger, Jahrg. 51, Heft 4