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Is this true?

Discussion of the distribution and abundance of living organisms and how these properties are affected by interactions between the organisms and their environment

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Is this true?

Postby Yasaman.herandy » Fri Sep 25, 2009 12:01 pm

In ecology nothing happens for the good of species!
Is this sentence really true? I heard it from my ecology teacher; I don't know why, but I can't believe it :roll:
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Postby JackBean » Fri Sep 25, 2009 12:20 pm

Do you have some example, what did he mean?

Basically, you can say, that nothing happens, because it is good for something. But also you can't mean, it's bad ;)
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Postby canalon » Fri Sep 25, 2009 3:46 pm

No I think he refers to the selfish gene theory. Nothing happens for the good of the species, thing can be good for some (or most) individuals, not for the species in itself.
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Science has proof without any certainty. Creationists have certainty without
any proof. (Ashley Montague)
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Postby Dougalbod » Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:20 am

Natural selection acts on individual genes/gene complexes. Individuals who have genes which confer an advantage over other individuals are more likely to reproduce succesfully so the frequency of the gene will increase in the population.

Apparently altruistic behaviour, 'for the good of the species', is probably aimed at close relatives (who are likely to be carrying the same gene) - so a behaviour where an individual puts itself at risk could evolve if the behaviour increased the survival chances of close relatives - and therefore the gene/gene complex responsible for the behaviour.

The clearest example of this is in social insects where sterile 'workers' sacrifice their whole life to ensuring the reproductive success of one queen - who is a close relative.

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Re: Is this true?

Postby Yasaman.herandy » Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:39 pm

Well, he was talking about lions and the fact that when the old male lion leaves the group, the young one arrives and kills all the babies of previous leader.
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Postby Dougalbod » Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:30 am

The young lion is unlikely to be closely related to the existing lion cubs. Therefore it would be disadvantageous for him to expend energy/effort raising them. Also the females will come into season sooner so he will be able to produce his own cubs faster.

Or to put it another way, a lion which kills the cubs which are not related to him is more likely to produce more viable offspring than a lion who allows those cubs to survive, has to expend energy on them and wait longer before produciong his own cubs. The killer lions genes will increase in frequency relative to the altruistic lion.

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Postby mith » Thu Oct 08, 2009 4:46 pm

Well, as humans, if we don't care for the species such as dealing with global warming, who would we mate with?
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
~Niebuhr
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Re:

Postby Dougalbod » Thu Oct 08, 2009 9:54 pm

mith wrote:Well, as humans, if we don't care for the species such as dealing with global warming, who would we mate with?


I think it is difficult to reliably interpret human behaviour in terms of natural selection. Self awareness and intelligence mean that we sometimes don't behave in a logical way (in terms of natural selection anyway).
On the other hand there is a suggestion that human tribalism/nationalism is rooted in kin selection. What seems clear is that we, for individually selfish or nationally selfish reasons, are not taking action to restrict the damge human population growth is doing to our environment. This kind of behaviour could be seen as an adaptation but it seems unlikely that it will allow our society/civilisation (or possibly even the human species) to survive the rapid environmental change that we are almost certainly going to expereince in the coming decades.
In my view education and concerted government action is needed, but I'm very pessimistc about that actually occuring. I find it hard to imagine the governments of the world and the corporations and the vast majority of individuals givng up their short sighted self interest for the good of all....
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