Ecologists are aware of the importance of natural dynamics in ecosystems. Historically, the focus has been on the development in succession of equilibrium communities, which has generated an understanding of the composition and functioning of ecosystems. Recently, many have focused on the processes of disturbances and the evolutionary significance of such events. This shifted emphasis has inspired studies in diverse systems. The phrase patch dynamics (Thompson, 1978) describes their common focus.
The Ecology of Natural Disturbance and Patch Dynamics brings together the findings and ideas of those studying varied systems, presenting a synthesis of diverse individual contributions.
When Michael J. Behe's first book, Darwin's Black Box, was published in 1996, it launched the intelligent design movement. Critics howled, yet hundreds of thousands of readers -- and a growing number of scientists -- were intrigued by Behe's claim that Darwinism could not explain the complex machinery of the cell.Now, in his long-awaited follow-up, Behe presents far more than a challenge to Darwinism: He presents the evidence of the genetics revolution -- the first direct evidence of nature's mutational pathways -- to radically redefine the debate about Darwinism. How much of life does Darwin's theory explain? Most scientists believe it accounts for everything from the machinery of the cell to the history of life on earth. Darwin's ideas have been applied to law, culture, and politics. But Darwin's theory has been proven only in one sense: There is little question that all species on earth descended from a common ancestor. Overwhelming anatomical, genetic, and fossil evidence exists for that claim. But the crucial question remains: How did it happen? Darwin's proposed mechanism -- random mutation and natural selection -- has been accepted largely as a matter of faith and deduction or, at best, circumstantial evidence. Only now, thanks to genetics, does science allow us to seek direct evidence. The genomes of many organisms have been sequenced, and the machinery of the cell has been analyzed in great detail. The evolutionary responses of microorganisms to antibiotics and humans to parasitic infections have been traced over tens of thousands of generations. As a result, for the first time in history Darwin's theory can be rigorously evaluated. The results are shocking. Although it can explain marginal changes in evolutionary history, random mutation and natural selection explain very little of the basic machinery of life. The "edge" of evolution, a line that defines the border between random and nonrandom mutation, lies very far from where Darwin pointed. Behe argues convincingly that most of the mutations that have defined the history of life on earth have been nonrandom. Although it will be controversial and stunning, this finding actually fits a general pattern discovered by other branches of science in recent decades: The universe as a whole was fine-tuned for life. From physics to cosmology to chemistry to biology, life on earth stands revealed as depending upon an endless series of unlikely events. The clear conclusion: The universe was designed for life.
Emergent evolution combines three separate but related claims, whose background, origin, and development I trace in this work: firstly, that evolution is a universal process of change, one which is productive of qualitative novelties; secondly, that qualitative novelty is the emergence in a system of a property not possessed by any of its parts; and thirdly, that reality can be analyzed into levels, each consisting of systems characterized by significant emergent properties. In part one I consider the background to emergence in the 19th century discussion of the philosophy of evolution among its leading exponents in England - Charles Darwin, Herbert Spencer, T. H. Huxley, Alfred Russel Wallace, and G. J. Romanes. Unlike the scientific aspect of the debate which aimed to determine the factors and causal mechanism of biological evolution, this aspect of the debate centered on more general problems which form what I call the "philosophical framework for evolutionary theory." This considers the status of continuity and discontinuity in evolution, the role of qualitative and quantitative factors in change, the relation between the organic and the inorganic, the relation between the natural and the supernatural, the mind-body problem, and the scope of evolution, including its extension to ethics and morals.
I would like to record my thanks to Paul Thompson for useful conver- sations over the years, and also to several generations of students who have helped me develop my ideas on biological theory and on Darwin. My wife has, as usual, been more than helpful; in particular she typed a good portion of the manuscript while I was on leave a few years ago, more now than I like to remember. My parents were both looking forward to holding a final copy of this book. I only regret that my mother did not live long enough to see its completion. I must also thank the publishers and their staff. They have been re- markably patient about meeting deadlines - promises were repeatedly made and then, owing to family situations, had to be broken - and for this I am considerably in their debt. I would further like to thank the following authors and publishers for permission to use their work: R. C. Lewontin, The Genetic Basis of Evolutionary Change, Figure 1, p. 14; (c) 1964 Columbia University Press; reprinted here by kind permission of the author and publisher. F. Wilson, 'Goudge's Contribution to the Philosophy of Science', in L. W. Sumner, J. G. Slater, and F. Wilson (eds.), Pragmatism and Purpose: Essays in Honour of T. A. Goudge; (c) 1964 University of Toronto Press; reproduced here in part by kind permission of all the editors and the publisher.
Most organisms and populations have to cope with hostile environments, threatening their existence. Their ability to respond phenotypically and genetically to these challenges and to evolve adaptive mechanisms is, therefore, crucial. The contributions to this book aim at understanding, from a evolutionary perspective, the impact of stress on biological systems. Scientists, applying different approaches spanning from the molecular and the protein level to individuals, populations and ecosystems, explore how organisms adapt to extreme environments, how stress changes genetic structure and affects life histories, how organisms cope with thermal stress through acclimation, and how environmental and genetic stress induce fluctuating asymmetry, shape selection pressure and cause extinction of populations. Finally, it discusses the role of stress in evolutionary change, from stress induced mutations and selection to speciation and evolution at the geological time scale. The book contains reviews and novel scientific results on the subject. It will be of interest to both researchers and graduate students and may serve as a text for graduate courses.
Does the inheritance of acquired characteristics play a significant role in evolution? In this book, Eva Jablonka and Marion J. Lamb attempt to answer that question with an original, provocative exploration of the nature and origin of hereditary variations. Starting with a historical account of Lamarck's ideas and the reasons they have fallen in disrepute, the authors go on to challenge the prevailing assumption that all heritable variation is random and the result of variation in DNA base sequences. They also detail recent breakthroughs in our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying inheritance--including several pathways not envisioned by classical population genetics--and argue that these advances need to be more fully incorporated into mainstream evolutionary theory. Throughout, the book offers a new look at the evidence for and against the hereditability of environmentally induced changes, and addresses timely questions about the importance of non-Mendelian inheritance. A glossary and extensive list of references round out the book. Urging a reconsideration of the present DNA-centric view prevalent in the field, Epigentic Inheritance and Evolution will make fascinating and important reading for students and researchers in evolution, genetics, ecology, molecular biology, developmental biology, and the history and philosophy of science.
New techniques in molecular biology have brought spectacular new insights into the study of evolution at the molecular level. This book presents the resulting relatively new concept of "molecular phylogeny", with an overview of current accomplishments and the future direction of research on organelle origin and evolution and the biology of the "higher cell".
Covering everything from fossilized dinosaurs to intelligent apes, this is an accessible guide to one of the most important scientific theories of all time. Burt Guttman assumes no prior scientific knowledge on the part of the reader, and explains each of the key ideas and concepts, including natural selection, genetics and the evolution of animal behavior, in a lively and informative way. Looking ahead to the future of evolutionary theory, and assessing its possible implications for the way we understand morality, human nature and our place in the world, this book provides the perfect starting point for understanding what evolution is and why it matters.
Is evolution predictible? Taking into account the results of such diverse disciplines of natural sciences as e. g. genetics embryology, ecology, palaeontology on the threshold of the coming century, the authors stretch out their ideas for discussing this question. Charles Devillers, biologist, and Jean Chaline, palaeontologist and geologist, developed a new assessment of the historic framework of evolution, based on their longterm experiences in scientific research, also including philosophical aspects to life. They aimed the book at a publicreceptive to problems of the origin and evolution of life and especially of mankind to teachers and scientists of various topics in the sciences of life, Earth and the Universe.
Evolution: The Whole Story provides an in-depth and up-to-the- minute account of evolution, one of the ultimate keystone theories in modern science. Ten esteemed experts thoroughly survey how each of Earth's major groups of living things diversified and evolved through time and using visual features that make the story comprehensible, the book gives readers, even those with no previous knowledge of the topic, a clear understanding of evolution and how it brought us to the present day.
Each of seven chapters takes one of Earth's major living groups and describes the evolution of its subgroups and how they diversified and evolved. The stories are fascinating. In some cases, a subgroup fell off the evolutionary chain, like the dinosaurs that were part of the Early Reptiles group, and which became extinct by the second extinction event. In other cases, a living subgroup may contain a life form virtually the same as its evolutionary ancestors, such as the horseshoe crab from the Invertebrates group, which is a "living fossil" closely related to prehistoric sea scorpions.
Along with profiles of the most important scientists that have influenced evolutionary theory, the book reveals how these advances have added to and often changed the story. For example, the now-extinct Pederpes, formerly thought to be a fish, was restudied and reclassified in 2002 and is now known to be the first four-limbed vertebrate to evolve to a life on land.
Evolution: The Whole Story makes the story of evolution comprehensible, straightforward and stimulating. The introduction provides an important overview. It includes:
- Modern evolutionary theory
- Terms such as convergent evolution and speciation; time charts and their eras, periods and epochs
- Explanations of graphic devices such as phylogenies and cladograms that depict evolutionary relationships
- How we know or surmise about long-gone animals, plants, habitats, and ecosystems
- Factors and pressures that drove evolution
- How fossils formed and are studied.
Having laid the base for readers, the story begins. Important features include:
- Thematic essays that provide a complete account of all the major life groups, explaining in detail their comparative anatomy and evolutionary legacies.
- Photographic features that investigate the characteristics of individual organisms, including living species, fossils and skeletons, and how they are direct ancestors or relatives to members of modern life groups.
- 160 Key Focus features that investigate topics of particular interest.
- Stimulating lifelike reconstructions of past habitats and ecosystems.
- Historical timelines highlighting key evolutionary events and discoveries.
- In-depth coverage of 20 eminent scientists that have made major contributions to our understanding of evolution.
- Coverage of Mass Extinctions in their chronological position on the evolutionary timescale.
The 160 Key Focus features investigate topics that add color while they reveal important developments in evolution and its study. Examples are:
- Hallucigenia, a wormlike creature so odd that a scientist thought he was hallucinating.
- Flowers, insects and co-evolution -- how organisms can progress "hand-in-hand"
- Peripatus, today's walking worm with stumpy legs, which may show how arthropods evolved
- Eurypterus, at almost 5 feet long it was a real monster for its time.
- Arthropleura, a giant millipede-like arthropod the size of a sports car.
- Othniel Charles Marsh, Edward Drinker Cope and the Bone Wars, as rivals competed to find the biggest, best dinosaur fossils.
- Hobbits, an amazing discovery in 2003 of 3-feet-tall fossil humans -- are they a distinct species?
- Reversing evolution and de-extinction -- will we be able to "de-extinct" long-gone species?
- Gigantopithecus, a 10-feet-tall close cousin of humans living in Asia up to 100,000 years ago.
- Today's sea eagle -- what modern eagles tell us about the evolution of their group.
- Are new species evolving?
Evolutionary theorists, paleontologists, paleoecologists, molecular biologists, geneticists, climatologists, the occasional amateur fossil-hunter, and many more people, have contributed to our understanding of evolution. Their passion and work will continue to unravel the complex and challenging story, but in the meantime, Evolution: The Whole Story reveals the compelling evidence we have today.
This book is ideal for all general readers and anyone working in or interested in fields related to the study of evolution. It is an essential selection.