Some thoughts on ecology, evolution and economics

Posts filed under Evolution

Black and White and Grey All Over

This post is written by my daughter , Suzette, thanks to whom I am now a grandfather! Watching the respect that my midwife has for obstetricians and vice versa has given me new hope for how science-based and ‘alternative’ medicine can work together and complement each other. Midwifery pulls from ancient knowledge of breath, touch,… (read more)

Evolutionary genomics

Evolution has always been about the complete package. Traits, like pea shape or hummingbird tongues, do not evolve – genomes do.  It is true that evolution is not real unless the list of instructions that makes up a genome is expressed in the real world but our genetic material is the scorecard of what succeeds and… (read more)

Small but mighty

Mosses stay close to the ground. Their humble habit belies their importance to evolution and ecology. For one thing, they have been on the banner of this blog right from the beginning. I think I instictively chose mosses as the essential combination of biology and physical geography that underpins all the topics dealt with in these… (read more)

A Tale of Tails

By far, the most recurring theme in this blog is an exploration of the lopsided nature of evolutionary success – what I have called Haldane’s Rule.  Is this a function of the process of speciation or is it something more mundane – something that we would expect in any branching process?  I have come to… (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)

How lopsided is evolution?

Back in May, I said that there was nothing extaordinary about the  maximum rate of branching that occurred early in the evolution of perching birds and that I would show my calculations in my next post.  I want to go to the trouble of backing up my statistics on this so that I can use the… (read more)

Why are there so many perching birds?

The lopsided tendency of evolution to produce many species in one group while preserving just a few in other groups applies quite well to birds. I called this tendency Haldane’s Rule.  Is there something special about groups, like the perching (or Passerine) birds, that dominate our biodiversity?  Or is their diversity a natural outcome from a… (read more)