Evolutionary biologist Nick Matzke is latest to put Darwin’s theory “outside science”
Continued silliness. The generalization that carnivorous plants tend to live in nutrient-poor environments applies to Utricularia as well. There might be some exceptions, but they are just that, exceptions to the general rule.
We need look no farther than Wikipedia:
Distribution and habitat
Utricularia can survive almost anywhere where there is fresh water for at least part of the year; only Antarctica and some oceanic islands have no native species. The greatest species diversity for the genus is seen in South America, with Australia coming a close second. In common with most carnivorous plants, they grow in moist soils which are poor in dissolved minerals, where their carnivorous nature gives them a competitive advantage; terrestrial varieties of Utricularia can frequently be found alongside representatives of the carnivorous genera–Sarracenia, Drosera and others–in very wet areas where continuously moving water removes most soluble minerals from the soil.
Although, if you like, I could start quoting experts which even Loennig would agree are experts (since he cites their work at various points in his monograph). I have all of the major works on CPs [carnivorous plants].
Now, I am happy to debate carnivorous plant evolution with folks, but there is really no point if you guys (and Loennig) can’t accept basic facts of the case without obfuscation and insult. This question must be answered before any further discussion on the evolution of carnivorous plants can take place: is the above statement basically correct, or not?
He adds here,
The standard theory is that carnivory in plants is an adaptation to increase nutrient uptake in environments where (chemically available) nutrients are scarce. Low nutrients = the primary selective pressure that gave an advantage to variations that allowed the improved trapping of insects.
Now, if the above were accepted, we could move on to have a discussion of whether or not it is reasonable to thing that the necessary variations to produce plant carnivory could occur — and from there, we could then move to a discussion of whether or not the processes that could produce sticky-leaf-traps and pitcher-plant traps could also eventually produce Utricularia-type bladder traps.
But, Loennig and his fans have launched a series of UD posts claiming that the evolutionary explanation of plant carnivory is bogus idiocy from the get-go, because they apparently think that it’s not true that CPs typically live in nutrient poor habitats, thus there is no reason for natural selection to favor such adaptations. They have been raising hell about it in a half-dozen posts, but without any attempt to review the massive and well-known (and available) literature on this topic. Loennig undoubtedly knows better, deep down, but he’s letting his fans get away with very silly statements.
So, like I said, there’s no point in continuing unless this kind of basic observational fact is accepted on all sides.
Everything seems to depend on whether the standard theory (Darwin’s natural selection) is a correct statement of the behaviour of carnivorous plants. Because that theory is under evidence-based dispute, it cannot be cited to judge the case. (Surely Dr. Loennig did not refer to Dr. Matzke’s comments as “bogus idiocy” … )
In any event, Dr. Loennig replied re Dr. Matzke’s comments, as follows:
Well, Matzke is strongly beating about the bush. Instead of answering in detail
key questions like
Why does Nick not answer Nachtwey’s questions on the evolution of Utricularia’s trap? Suction in half a millisecond: How did the trap become watertight and functional as a suction trap with all its synorganized anatomical and physiological details by a series of random ‘micromutations’ with slight or even invisible effects on the phenotype (Mayr)?
he simply presupposes his mutation-selection theory as being entirely correct. And the infinite invention of non-testable evolutionary scenarios of how something could have evolved puts the synthetic theory outside science. See the details and discussions on such scenarios here.
Also, the question of how many of the aquatic Utricularia species can and do live in meso- to eutrophic (instead of oligotrophic) environments is, of course, not answered by quoting a general statement from the Wikipedia. For a scientifically correct answer the question has to be further investigated whether most (or exactly how many) of these species really occur in oligotrophic environments only and how or to what extent the 7 exceptions I mentioned so far (really all that I have precisely checked until now) disturb or even disprove the adaptionist viewpoint. And what about the almost 100 Pinguicula species that I have mentioned earlier? And many more cases are known. (Of course, I do not deny that many carnivores like Dionaea muscipula and most Drosera species and others really live – together with many non-carnivorous plants – “in nutrient impoverished substrate” – Fleischmann 2010, p. 843).
Above all: Even in (the wrong) case or scenario that all Utricularia species were living in oligotrophic environments – this would, of course, not explain the origin of their suction traps by mutations and selection (without ID) anymore than the adaptation of automobiles (wheels, motors, brackets, lights etc.) to roads and a thousand different tasks would explain their origin without intelligent design.
As to the details on Kingsley see p. 8 ff.: I did not simply copy Taylor’s mistake but commented on it in detail in the paper just referred and linked to above already several years ago; it would really consume a lot of time to correct all the doubtful or false presuppositions and statements of Nick Matzke, who obviously did not carefully study my papers.
It really comes down to whether Darwin rules or evidence. Readers must decide.
UD News staff don’t understand why an adaptation for poor soils, like carnivory, should necessarily put a plant at a disadvantage in better soils.
See also: Remember that Darwin-eating plant? Now threatening to eat Nick Matzke …
Carnivorous plants: After eating Darwin, they couldn’t resist further culinary adventures
The plants that eat vertebrate animals
Carnivorous plants: The 200-year headache.
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