Field guide training: Ecology – Part 4
Natural selection or "survival of the fittest" is a principle which is considered as status quo since its beginnings in the 1930ies. In our blog you can find more information regarding this important ecology topic.
The modern theory of evolution according to Charles Darwin states that all organisms continuously change their external appearance (phenotype) due to random mutations of their genetic material. If such a change provides a life advantage over other species under certain environmental parameters, this "more successful" species will prevail. This is also referred to as "natural selection", since less successful species are selected over time.
This principle, known as "survival of the fittest", originated in the 30s of the 19th century and is still traded as a status quo today.
Darwin's idea is subject to the constant interaction of species with each other and with their environment. The competition principle plays a particularly important role here. In intra-species competition, individuals of the same species compete for food or reproductive success (example: the most beautiful/remarkable male has the greatest success with the female). As weaker, disadvantaged animals are selected, this principle ultimately serves the health of a population and thus the ability to assert oneself against other species. The interspecific competition takes place between individuals/populations of different species. It often affects species that claim a similar ecological niche and want to secure their place in it sustainably.
Intra-species and inter-species competition can be observed in all forms of life, whether bacteria, algae, plants or animals. This kind of competition and the selection resulting from it is the basis of evolutionary theory: over time, those species that are better adapted to given environmental conditions than their competitors prevail – due to their higher complexity.
In times of anthropogenic environmental destruction, however, this principle is undermined because changes in the environment take place too quickly for living organisms to adapt to them. The consequences are population declines and species extinction.
The task of a field guide is to protect the animals and plants from this environmental destruction and to preserve the natural selection that has existed since life began.