Nature- Part two

The concept of the deer parks Coates discussed shows how humans like to control ecological relationships. Though we don’t particularly call them deer parks anymore, their concept still persists today. We have areas that lack predators and allow hunters to come in and control the deer/other herbivore populations. I, however, think this is a better option that purchasing factory farmed meat.So, while I wish we could reintroduce wolves into areas like these, I think in theory these are actually an okay idea.

In my island biology class we learned a lot about Charles Darwin as he talks about the Galapagos Islands a lot in his Origin of Species book given the large amounts of evolution and adaptation that has occurred on the islands. Fun fact: Charles Darwin actually made fun of a lot of the species that live in the Galapagos. He called them dumb and stupid and found the flora ugly. He also killed a lot of animals while there since the animals were so unaccustomed to predators. Anyway, I was very intrigued by the section about Darwinism and ecology that started on page 139.

One of the most relevant findings Darwin had that relates to environmentalists isn’t concerning evolution or natural selection, rather the relationships animals and plants have on one another. He gave an example of how a bee fertilizes a red clover. Without the bee the red clover could not grow. The bees’ population was controlled by mice, as the mice destroyed their hives. The mice population was controlled by cats. Therefore, more cats=less mice, less mice=more bees, more bees=more clover. This type of population control is called top-down. Predators determine the amount of flora. So another example, as we kill top predators like wolves, deer and elk populations are increasing, which in turn eat all of the flora. This leads us to realize that picking and choosing which species we like and which can survive is not always a realistic task. When we mess with one population the entire community can be affected.

This part of Darwin’s theory is also much easier for people to take in. Those who don’t believe in evolution are able to accept this part of his theory as it is very logical and doesn’t interfere with their given set of values and ideas. Believing in ecological relationships between animals is a good starting point as it can be used to start an argument of why we need to protect top predators, not just the ones we find cute and charismatic.

The use of the word “nature” and “natural” obviously brings up a lot of questions. What does it really mean? For example, the Nazis attempted to claim that those who were weak and degenerate as unnatural and therefore should be extinguished as we shouldn’t have unnatural things on our planet. The Nazis obviously didn’t put much thought into what’s natural. Many animals become weak and degenerate, some species have homosexual tendencies, and there are many types of subspecies and variations of species that could be compared to different races of humans, so are those unnatural? It’s very interesting how a general word like “natural” can become something so different.

I like the section at the end where he discusses the things animals can do that are similar to humans or even past it. Darwin claimed that, “there is no fundamental difference between man and the high mammals in their mental faculties” (pg 182). This is a good point, as evolution does  not work towards something. It just selects the most successful traits, so we are not necessarily made up of all the most successful traits. Elephants communicate over long distances with stomach rumbles, dolphins are extremely intellectual species with larger brains that us, and fish can breath under water. Many,if not all, species can do something humans cannot, so we should not be able to claim superiority over all of them.

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