There is a distinct possibility that humans are currently part way through an evolutionary transition between individuals and groups. The conflict between these two units of selection and levels of organization, between biology and culture, may explain some of the tensions in modern human life. Examples of selfishness and altruism exemplify how these types of selection act on humans.
Celebrating Science & Humanity
Darwin Day is a global celebration of science and reason held on or around Feb. 12, the birthday anniversary of evolutionary biologist Charles Darwin.
On this website you can find all sorts of information about Charles Darwin and the International Darwin Day Foundation. If you are hosting a Darwin Day event, you can post information about it on our events listing. You can also locate Darwin Day programs near you by searching our events section.
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Evolution plays an important though underutilized role in medicine. Evolution guides how our bodies respond to various treatments, how pathogens will respond to treatments, and how pathogens…
While there are many differences between modern science and philosophy, there are still a number of lessons in modes of thought that scientists can take from philosophy.
This lecture provides an overview of the physical aspects of earth
Every species on earth has an environmental range in which it can live. Usually it flourishes in the central portion of this range. Organisms contain a host of adaptations that allow them to manipulate their environments to remain within their preferred range. Plants and animals differ in the nature of these adaptations, which include the control of water, temperature, pH, and ion concentration.
The growth of populations is held in check by several factors. These can include predators, food and other resources, and density. Population density affects growth rate by determining how likely is it that an organism will interact with a member of its own species compared to an organism of a different species. Population growth studies rely on the mathematics of logs and exponents.
Competition among species, or inter-specific competition, can have an even greater effect on selection than competition within species (intra-specific competition). This is often the case in lower density populations. Different species can have positive, neutral, or negative effects on each other
The idea of ecological communities has changed tremendously over the past 40 years. The classical view stated that there were so many different species because evolution packed them tightly into the available niches. The modern view emphasizes the idea of trophic cascades, or top-down control in food chains. This emphasized the importance of predation in ecology, although it downplayed the significance of food webs, which showed the interrelated nature of ecosystems better than simple food chains.
Geography is very important in ecology. Two major systems have been designed to model this, island biogeography and metapopulations. The idea of metapopulations is more recent, and has emerged as the dominant theory. Metapopulations are populations in multiple neighboring areas. The population of a species in any individual area may go extinct, but the metapopulation still survives. The theory of metapopulations has gained momentum in recent years because of its applications to epidemiology, the study of diseases.
The movement of matter and energy around the planet is very important, and its study draws on geology, and meterology in addition to chemistry. Energy tends to flow upwards from plantlike producers to herbivores to carnivores before being decomposed by detritovores and cycling back into energy usable by producers, in addition to the photosynthesis or chemosynthesis used by producers to produce energy. Like energy, compounds vital to life such as carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorous flow around the planet in cycles.