Phylogenetic Comparative Methods

Reviewed by Erin Tripp, Assistant Professor (EBIO) & Curator (Museum of Natural History), CU Boulder on 7/1/19

Comprehensiveness rating: 4

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.

Content Accuracy rating: 5

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.

Relevance/Longevity rating: 5

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.

Clarity rating: 5

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.

Consistency rating: 5

No issues with consistency or clarity - this book is written in a language that is easily digestible to a broad audience of (academic) users!

Modularity rating: 5

Harmon's parsing of content across 12 chapters makes this textbook appropriately modular and able to be "consumed" in several, stand-alone learning sessions.

Organization/Structure/Flow rating: 5

Harmon's book covers the key topics in comparative evolutionary biology and organizes them into series of well-defined and appropriate chapter headers.

Interface rating: 5

I find little in the way of serious errors throughout any of Harmon's chapters.

Grammatical Errors rating: 5

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.

Cultural Relevance rating: 5

This text is a scientific text and does its job to steer clear of an insensitive or offensive content.