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One reason why the “fittest” don’t necessarily survive


At ScienceDaily we learn, “Scientists Uncover an Unhealthy Herds Hypothesis” (June 24, 2011),

Biologists worldwide subscribe to the healthy herds hypothesis, the idea that predators can keep packs of prey healthy by removing the weak and the sick. This reduces the chance disease will wipe out the whole herd, but could it be that predators can also make prey populations more susceptible to other predators or even parasites? Biologists at the Georgia Institute of Technology have discovered at least one animal whose defenses against a predator make it a good target for one opportunistic parasite.

In principle, that should be no surprise; most defense strategies carry a cost, for water fleas or nations.

That’s because while growing larger keeps Daphnia [water flea] safe from Chaoborus [midge larva], it actually makes it more susceptible to a virulent yeast parasite, known as Metschnikowia. When Daphnia senses a threat from its predator and grows larger, it ends up consuming more of these parasitic yeasts than it does when normal size.When the yeast infects the crustacean, it kills it, causing the dead animal to release yeast spores as it decomposes. The larger the host, the more spores it releases back into the water to prey on other Daphnia.

If we assume design in nature, we should expect to uncover many more checks and balances of this sort. If heedless arms races worked in nature, most life forms would have died out a long time ago.

That said, is it true that most biologists worldwide subscribe to a “healthy herds” hypothesis? One that contradicts the ecological fact captured by the “unhealthy herds” story? That fitness itself can create lethal risks?

Too much bedtime reading of “Survival of the Fittest” literature perhaps? Lessons for all here.

File with: Antlers in heaven

ok, I'm confused. I thought you had to look at who survived to see who the fittest were. So how could the fittest not survive? Mung
This article brings up not ONLY a great factual point, but one that your average human being should grasp, even when the self promoting intellectual Elitists refuse to admit. I have worked in the past with regards environmental ecosystems restoration projects. Specifically regarding plants[trees, shrubs, grasses, etc]. If an individual observes what is found in nature[what's left of it], you come to the conclusion that survival of the fittest is not the only mechanism for a well balanced healthy ecosystem, no matter where on this planet Earth you may find it. Again, as the article/post above recognizes, "survival of the fittest", that is the fittest trees survive, etc, etc, etc, etc, then of course everyone recognizes and gets that. No arguement there of an important health componant involved there. However, as the article also pointed out, there are extremely healthy populations of almost any type of a living organism that needs other checks & balanc features found in nature. You soon realize that these are engineered checks & balances that are actually engineered into ecosystems with massive amounts of purpose and intent and go against the romantic violent notions of your average Evo church goer. Here's an experience I had observed up in the mountains of where I am from in the USA before moving to Europe. I was at my brother's friends wedding feast on their burnt out Southern California 100+ acre ranch after the infamous "Cedar Fire"(2003) on North Peak south of the town of Julian. I noticed that the ground was extremely green in between what had been old growth forest burnt to a cinder. At first glance I thought it was thick grass, but on closer inspection I saw it was millions of Incense Cedar seedlings which germinated that spring and every single one of them healthy and vibrant. I commented to others there that all would'nt make it as there were several check/balance componants most likely left in tact that would naturally thin them. Obviously one would be the large and small animal grazing, but more important would be micro biological pathogenic machinery which would do the bulk of the work. This is well known since in the Plant Nursery business pathogens which cause 'damping off' to nursery seedlings at a very young stage are fought against from the very start as an arch enemy. Most all seed is healthy and will produce healthy trees, shrubs, whatever. In the nursery biz the high numbers surviving translate into more profits, but NOT in nature. In nature, such ornamental specimans as cedar, pine, oak, etc can actually become weedy[when to many] and work against there own good. This is the sad case in most of scandinavia where I reside now. Reason ??? It's the greedy and selfish practice called "Industrial Forestry". Very little other life, especially animal and bird life exists in such forests. In a forest ecosystem, close to 100% success rate would mean no old growth forests, chaparral, savanah or what ever ecosystem. You need natural culling, something that Darwinian 'Survival of the Fittest' mentality never addresses. Well, at least not without a story made up on the fly when backed into a corner. There's a ton more info and experience with regards this subject, but hopefully everyone get's the point. Well, at least those who aren't blinded by the personal bias of their own faith and angry worldview. Eocene

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