Posts Tagged ‘Darwin’s finches’

Darwin’s finches can’t rely on natural selection to survive

December 18, 2015

It is only a mathematical model which predicts that a parasitic fly may drive Darwin’s finches to extinction. And the authors then suggest that human intervention is needed to “save” them because natural selection is just not potent enough or fast enough to allow them to adapt.

That’s all very well, but I feel compelled to speak up for the underdog – which is of course, the parasites. I note that Prof. Dale Clayton displays his prejudices when he says:

“They are maggots basically, is what they are,” said Prof Dale Clayton from the University of Utah, the senior author on the study. ….. “They are pretty nasty customers.”

Why the “specist” discrimination? Why should finches be in a privileged position compared to the flies? Their genes may not be threatened but they surely are more important, as a patently “fitter” species”, than those of the finches?

Another case of misguided conservation, where human intervention is proposed to protect an unfit species at the expense of a fitter species.

EurekAlert: 

Mathematical simulations at the University of Utah show parasitic flies may spell extinction for Darwin’s finches in the Galapagos Islands, but that pest-control efforts might save the birds that helped inspire the theory of evolution.

The new study “shows that the fly has the potential to drive populations of the most common species of Darwin’s finch to extinction in several decades,” says biology professor Dale Clayton, senior author of the study published online Dec. 18 in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

But the research “is not all doom and gloom,” he adds. “Our mathematical model also shows that a modest reduction in the prevalence of the fly – through human intervention and management – would alleviate the extinction risk.”

Mathematical simulations at the University of Utah show parasitic flies may spell extinction for Darwin’s finches in the Galapagos Islands, but that pest-control efforts might save the birds that helped inspire the theory of evolution.

The new study “shows that the fly has the potential to drive populations of the most common species of Darwin’s finch to extinction in several decades,” says biology professor Dale Clayton, senior author of the study published online Dec. 18 in the Journal of Applied Ecology.

But the research “is not all doom and gloom,” he adds. “Our mathematical model also shows that a modest reduction in the prevalence of the fly – through human intervention and management – would alleviate the extinction risk.”

Darwin’s finches image Wikipedia

The authors justify their unjustifiable proposals by invoking the meaningless god of “global diversity”.

The case of the flies and finches exemplifies how “introduced pathogens and other parasites pose a major threat to global diversity,” especially on islands, which tend to have smaller habitat sizes and lower genetic diversity, the researchers write.

It is only another alarmist mathematical model. Yet the fundamental reality, whenever a species goes extinct, is that it no longer has any significant part to play in an ecology. If it was relevant and significant to an ecology then its survival would be implicit. And what makes an ecology containing 10 species any better or any worse than an ecology containing 100 species? Surely it is the effectiveness or sustainability of that ecology which counts and not the number of species it contains.

Advertisements

%d bloggers like this: