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Ecology: Biodiversity moves us beyond counting species

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From Rachel Cernansky at Nature:

Biodiversity moves beyond counting species
Ecologists are increasingly looking at how richness of traits — rather than number of species — helps set the health of ecosystems.

From the article:

Biodiversity, it states, doesn’t have to be just about the number of a species in an ecosystem. Equally important to keeping an ecosystem healthy and resilient are the species’ different characteristics and the things they can do — measured in terms of specific traits such as body size or branch length.

“Just going for species numbers basically doesn’t allow us to harness all this incredibly rich information we have of how the real world operates,” says Sandra Díaz, an ecologist with Argentina’s National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) and the University of Córdoba. Still, some experts are concerned. How traits are defined remains a source of debate, and without robust data on trait and species diversity in settings around the world, any choices directed by the approach could turn out to be short-sighted. More.

The move is wise and timely. Better news for the ecology, worse news for textbook Darwinism.

But the reason is tactfully masked by the authors: Species is a bankrupt concept anyway. There is no general agreement on how to classify species or how many species there are. The concept is an obsession of Darwinism (= the Origin of Species) and that obsession hinders evaluation based on actual performance measures.

See also: Nothing says “Darwin snob” like indifference to the mess that the entire concept of speciation is in

and

Darwinism: Misfits do better than theory predicts The Darwinian understanding of evolution requires the theorist to develop a science-level prediction about what will survive that goes beyond mere tautology. That quest has consistently failed.

5 Replies to “Ecology: Biodiversity moves us beyond counting species

  1. 1
    goodusername says:

    worse news for textbook Darwinism.

    How so?

  2. 2
    Latemarch says:

    goodusername:

    Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.

    Oops! Ecology makes sense in the light of traits and behaviors. Actual observations, not stories.

  3. 3
    News says:

    goodusername at 1 and Latemarch at 2: Ecology is a science of the present tense and can make little use of claims about the past. The need to get beyond textbook Darwinism in order to understand ecologies is all around us.

    Speciation may not be a useful concept anymore. If it is, let the species-ists defend the claim in open court!

    Otherwise, we have good royalty-paying (tax burden) textbooks but rotten teaching for preserving ecologies.

  4. 4
    Pearlman says:

    they want to minimize family/order value in understanding speciation now that it is obvious the factual evidence backs ID and YeC and not NDT and deep-time doctrine dogma.
    reference RCCF the recent complex creation framework
    for understanding science in max avail context

  5. 5
    goodusername says:

    News,

    I’m not sure, but it sounds like you’re saying that there isn’t a single objective correct definition of “species.” Well, yes, that’s something that Darwin himself repeatedly argued and pointed out.

    Darwin often pointed out that species are not uniform, but rather often diverse themselves – with multiple populations, each different from the others.

    Darwin also argued that the borders between species were not usually as clear-cut as people generally believe, and that the lines are blurry and subjective between populations and sub-species, and between sub-species and species, etc. He pointed out, for instance, that different naturalists would count a different number of species in the same ecosystem.

    It’s beyond me how anyone would see this as bad news for Darwinism. In fact, these observations are a necessary condition if, as Darwin argued, speciation is a gradual process.

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