História evolucionária e as interações das espécies

terça-feira, outubro 27, 2009

Evolutionary history and species interactions

Douglas J. Futuyma a,1 and Anurag A. Agrawal b

+ Author Affiliations

aDepartment of Ecology and Evolution, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794-5245; and

bDepartments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Entomology, and Cornell Center for a Sustainable Future, Cornell University, Corson Hall, Ithaca, NY 14853-2701

We celebrate this year the sesquicentennial anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species (1), one of the most important books ever written. The two great themes of The Origin are descent, with modification, of diverse species from common ancestors, and natural selection, which Darwin proposed as the chief agent of modification. He remarked, in Chapter VI, that “it is generally acknowledged that all organic beings have been formed on two great laws—Unity of Type, and the Conditions of Existence. By unity of type is meant that fundamental agreement in structure, which we see in organic beings of the same class, and which is quite independent of their habits of life. On my theory, unity of type is explained by unity of descent. The expression of conditions of existence…is fully embraced by the principle of natural selection.” The two great laws are conjoined, he noted, because natural selection will have adapted the parts of each being “during long-past periods of time,” so that “the law of the Conditions of Existence is the higher law; as it includes, through the inheritance of former adaptations, that of Unity of Type” (ref. 1, p. 168).

Darwin thus described what we today consider the main subjects of evolutionary biology: the history of evolution, including that history embodied in “unity of type,” the causal processes of evolution (including, but not only, natural selection), and the relation between them.

During the 1930s and 1940s, dialogue among geneticists, systematists, and paleontologists resulted in the “evolutionary synthesis,” in which a chief point of agreement was that the phenomena of …

1To whom correspondence should be addressed: E-mail: futuyma@life.bio.sunysb.edu


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