Big Questions in Ecology and Evolution (Oxford Biology) by Thomas N. Sherratt, David M. Wilkinson

By Thomas N. Sherratt, David M. Wilkinson

Why can we age? Why cooperate? Why achieve this many species have interaction in intercourse? Why do the tropics have such a lot of species? while did people begin to have an effect on international weather?

This e-book presents an creation to quite a number basic questions that experience taxed evolutionary biologists and ecologists for many years. a number of the phenomena mentioned are, on first mirrored image, easily perplexing to appreciate from an evolutionary point of view, while others have direct implications for the way forward for the planet. all the questions posed have no less than a partial answer, all have noticeable intriguing breakthroughs lately, but some of the factors stay hotly debated.

Big Questions in Ecology and Evolution is a curiosity-driven booklet, written in an obtainable method to be able to entice a large viewers. it's very intentionally no longer a proper textual content ebook, yet anything designed to transmit the thrill and breadth of the sphere by means of discussing a couple of significant questions in ecology and evolution and the way they've been spoke back. this can be a e-book geared toward informing and encouraging anyone with an curiosity in ecology and evolution. It unearths to the reader the colossal scope of the sector, its primary significance, and the intriguing breakthroughs which were made lately.

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Perhaps females do not have to be the fecundity-limiting gender? It is likely that they are not limiting in some circumstances, but there is ample evidence that they are in Why Sex? 33 most. In particular, when one compares the maximum reproductive output of males and females when they are allowed many sexual partners, the female output is far less than the males. 18 Finally, perhaps there is always some subtle benefit to sexually reproduced offspring— such as an improved ability to survive cold winters in the sexually produced egg stage (as seen in greenfly), or an ability to disperse widely as a zygote (compare vegetatively reproduced plants with sexually produced seeds)—which is not directly associated with genetic mixing itself, but nevertheless provides the crucial advantage to sex.

If, however, the argument is that sex has evolved for the longer-term success of the species, then the argument is much harder to justify. Natural selection has no foresight and works only on the material that it currently has available, so unless sex provides some form of quality advantage to offspring now, then asexuals will tend to spread. Despite the above reservation, there is a chance that sexuality might still hang on (and even prevail) in the longer term because of its effects on species persistence, even if it is disadvantageous in the short term.

Research on ageing has also provided a few other solutions to life extension which are not quite so technological. 106 The mechanism by which caloric restriction extends lifespan is unclear, and it is even possible107 (at least in fruit flies) that it extends longevity by reducing death rate rather than postponing senescence per se. One hypothesis is that dietary restriction slows metabolism, thereby slowing the production of toxic products such as ROS, but it may in part be linked back to reproduction if poorly fed individuals are not reproductively active.

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