The interaction of questions in evolutionary ecology

Throughout the book several issues have been raised in more than one chapter, implying that understanding one topic in evolutionary ecology can enhance understanding of another. This occurs for two reasons. First, the topics are biologically interdependent. Second, the techniques we can use to aid understanding are often general. These connections have also led many notable evolutionary ecologists to move from one subject to the next. Let us now recap the connections illustrated by the book...

Evolution of the biosphere a brief history

The origin of the biosphere and of earth's ecology occurred between 3.8 and 3.5 billion years ago. Both autotrophic and heterotrophic origins have been proposed. Previously the heterotrophic use of organic molecules synthesized in the pre-biotic broth was a popular idea (see Lazcano and Miller 1999). More recently, autotrophic theories have re-emerged, for two reasons first, early cell membranes would probably have lacked sufficient permeability to transport large molecules. Second, it is now...

Cichlids and evolutionary ecology

The cichlid story illustrates many of the broader features of evolutionary ecology, the science that involves both ecological and evolutionary knowledge. Evolutionary biology is the field concerned with understanding how biological lineages change through time (anagenesis), split (cladogenesis), and ultimately go extinct. Ecology is concerned with the interaction of organisms with their environment. The organisms can be considered at various levels of a hierarchy, comprising the individual, the...

Sexual selection in plants

This discussion of plant reproduction is convenient for the next subject sexual selection. Sexual selection was another brainchild of Darwin (1871) who realized that characters that made organisms successful at acquiring a mate might be selected for, and that this can account for some of the extraordinary exaggerated traits of organisms, such as antlers of deer and long tails and colourful plumage of pheasants. The first person to explicitly model female choice as the exaggerating process was...