Who’s driving the car?

28 02 2007

I hadn’t heard about it previously, but my wife told me about a book entitled Survival of the Sickest she caught wind of via an NPR interview today. While I’ll do my best to reserve judgement until I read the book (my wife told me one of the authors described themselves as a neo-Lamarckian, *shudder*), I think the effects of disease, insects, and other often-overlooked factors should be researched more thoroughly when it comes to evolution. Evolution is the unifying concept of biological science and there is simply too much more any one person to know, but sometimes I get the feeling that species are viewed as distinct from their environment, almost as if they were in a vacuum or held in constant conditions. We know this is not the case, of course, and I firmly believe that there needs to be a greater integration of ecology and evolution; you can’t fully hope to understand one without the other. How can you understand how an ecosystem forms and behaves (be it energy cycling, who eats whom, etc.) without evolution? How can we understand how creatures evolve without understanding the resources available to them and pressures put on them by the surrounding ecology? Lab tests and coming up with theoretical intermediates is certainly interesting, but I personally think that evolution cannot be fully comprehended apart from understanding ecology. Even in general, I think science would be far better-off if at least some scientists were more skilled in interdisciplinary research, or at least kept up with what has been happening in related fields. Granted, I’m just a young start-up who isn’t really a part of the “scientific establishment” yet, but I think scientists in all disciplines need to do a better job talking to the public and talking to each other.


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