Some thoughts on ecology, evolution and economics

Archive for 2015

Deeper patterns in foreign trade

When I started this blog, I referred to the similarities between ecosystems and economies.  Here, I will make an ecologist’s observations on the patterns of world trade.  Foodwebs are an important tool in understandng ecosystems.  They are a list of species from which each species draws energy. That is to say, who eats whom. Economists… (read more)

Flower power

The floral emblem of Canada – you know, the little garland at the bottom of the coat of arms – has four species.  Each species represents an ancestral homeland of the first settlers of Canada: England (rose), Scotland (thistle) , Ireland (shamrock), and France (lily).  Of course, the coat of arms also has maple leaves… (read more)

Tree of trees

The imagery of nature is woven into our language and culture. The moral significance of “going green” or the fear expressed by the term “running wild” are two examples.  It is ironic when we turn our nature-derived concepts to the task of describing nature.  I have been talking about branching rates in many of my… (read more)

The Beetles!

I have been working on this post  since 2013. ” I’ll just go to Encyclopedia of Life and count the genera in each of the beetle families”, I said to myself.  If my previous post on the perching birds represented  one neighbourhood in a tidy  little town of  10,000 occupants, the order of beetles is… (read more)

The Triple Bang

Something remarkable happened 160 million years ago. Three of the most diverse groups on the planet exploded in a simultaneous speciation event.  Two of the groups were new at the beginning of the Cretaceous period, the last chapter in the age of dinosaurs.  Flowering plants had just evolved from conifers and birds had just come… (read more)