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Thread: From Fitness to Optimality:The Back Swing of Darwinism's Clo

  1. #1 From Fitness to Optimality:The Back Swing of Darwinism's Clo 
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    From Fitness to Optimality:
    The Back Swing of Darwinism's Clock


    A report from DSS EXPRESS:http://www.brainecology.net/ktjh/show.asp?bh=36

    This year is the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth and the 150th anniversary of the publication of The Origin of Species.
    Looking back at the developmental history of biological thinking over the 150 years since the publication of The Origin of Species, we noticed that the pendulum of Darwinian clock has meaningfully swung back. In a recent published preliminary report The Development of the Neo-adaptationist Biology, written by Brain & Ecology Comparative Group (BECG), this phenomenon and its significance were analyzed on the background of biological history.

    The report mentioned that Darwin in his book did not define and use the concept "adaptation". But in the discourse he repeatedly used a comparative term, the "fittest". This shows that, in Darwin's thinking, adaptation is more appropriate as a relative or referenced standard. This is the original point of the "Darwinian clock". Half a century later, based on Darwinian "fittest" idea, the Modern Synthesis proposed that using "reproduction" to measure different organisms’ adaptation levels, in order to solve the issues in quantitative analysis of adaptation. Thus they created the measurable concept "fitness". This change marked the focus of evolutionary biology was shifted from phenotypic comparison of Darwin’s times into genotype’s comparison of the modern era, marking the "Darwinian clock" pendulum has swung away from the original point.

    This in essence turns from the phenotype determinism to the gene determinism. It has a historical background that due to there is a substantially fuzziness in evolutionism on the micro-process of organisms’ variation, the Modern Synthesis on the basis of genetics introduced the genetic variation theory to give a micro-empirical support for the natural selection model in explaining the causes of adaptation, and this revived the once depressed evolutionism to become a basic tool of biology with extensive explanation power. Therefore, as a theoretical result of the micro-biology times, the Modern Synthesis naturally replaced the original position of the traditional evolutionism. Moreover by abandoning phenotype, the "fitness" concept showed the self-confidence of the "genetic determinism" theory.
    Particularly, the report explained why the prosperity of the Modern Synthesis had remained for 80 years. The cause is that the genetic determinism implies a tacit principle: as long as the mutation of gene was able to be passed to future generations, the predevelopmental primordial germ cells of the offspring may be automatically led by its own developmental mechanics and phenotypically express the mutated gene. However, the disproportionate suppression of population dispersal by natural selection does not directly target at gene, but targets at gene’s carrier (phenotype). And it is not a selection aiming at one trait of the phenotype, but a holistic selection aiming at the phenotype carrier.

    This latent principle is the most fatal flaw of the Modern Synthesis. Therefore, the in-depth problem emerges. Why is this phenotype being selected rather than that one? How is the physio-ecological process proceeding when a phenotype is selected in a concrete environment? Thus, the issue of adaptation comes back from gene to phenotype again, and returns to the traditional question: how each phenotype was selected in its life-history under different natural conditions? The Modern Synthesis encounters an insurmountable barrier in theoretical explanation.

    In the report, BECG focused on the development of intraspecific comparative biology, put forward the neo-adaptationist analysis of phenotypic "optimality", and created a new comparative idea: adaptation is phenotype-centered, and it refers to organism’s morphological structures and physiological functions etc. presenting optimality in using environmental resources and resisting environmental stress under specific ecological niche. This analysis can be use to measure organisms’ adaptation level. Comparing with Modern Synthesis’s "fitness", "optimality" concept inherits the Darwin's original idea "fittest", how degagely the pendulum of "Darwinian clock" swings back to the original position 150 years later.

    The report suggest that the biotic adaptation ology is only a half-done and rough theoretical framework, and the evolutionism has just succeeded in creating an adaptation theory at the ecology level, but the physiology-leveled ology remains to be formed. Therefore the intraspecific adaptation biology shows its historical significance, it has a distinct emphasis on the physiology-leveled adaptation. On the one hand, it inherits the historical tradition of adaptation comparative study. The other hand, it entirely enters into micro-physiological process. Thereby neo-adaptationism is the another new synthesis following the evolutionism and the Modern Synthesis.


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  3. #2  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    adaptation centered on the phenotype is new?

    How do you think there can be selection without a phenotype to act upon?

    Phenotype has always been the center. What has changed is only to what degree the genotype dictates the phenotype.

    Don't claim you have invented something new if you haven't understood the basics.


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    I don't see anything new here either. No reasonable evolutionary biologist thinks each gene is it's own little island. Each gene (and each regulatory sequence and each structural sequence) operates within the context of the entire genome and the environment currently faced by the body that's holding it. Sure, a lot of recent research in the past few decades has focused on trying to understand the actions of single genes, but I do not think the overall context was ever ignored or considered unimportant. It's a logical progression of knowledge, really. We start by gaining a better understanding of the pieces and then work more on understanding how the pieces work together.

    Though I admit that this isn't the only thing I've read lately that claims there's change-a-coming in evolutionary science, I think it's nothing but a semantic emphasis. It doesn't change the actual science.
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  5. #4 another one:Intraspecific Adaptation Biology: A New Separate 
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    Intraspecific Adaptation Biology: A New Separated Direction


    Aestivation is an important period included within the life cycle of tropical earthworms. Almost all earthworm species display this mechanism as a response to seasonal changes in soil moisture and temperature. During this phase of inactivity individuals remain at deeper soil layers, fasting and immobile. A Comparative study on the earthworms’ life cycle physiology in relation to the environmental changes, researcher can find that aestivation is a case of intraspecific adaptive strategy. The benefit is that aestivation enables individuals to reduce their demands on nutrition and energy, so that the earthworms can escape from unsuitable seasonal conditions.

    Since the second half of the 20th century, in the borderland of Ecology, a large number of intraspecific adaptive strategies have respectively been found. For example, environmental changes may lead to adjusted seed size, varied number of offspring, advanced or delayed reproductive timing, diversified sizes of individuals, altered shape and behavior etc. The common nature of them is intraspecific traits and functions variation under the impact of environmental factors.

    In the preliminary report The Development of the Neo-adaptationist Biology, which was recently published by BECG, the studies of intraspecific adaptive strategies have been summarized. They are from five fields, life history evolutionary ecology, behavioral ecology, adversity and stress biology, phenotypic plasticity study, evolution and pathophysiology.

    The report considered that the traditional evolutionary biology research, for a long time, is based on the comparison between one species and another species; but the study of intraspecific adaptive strategy leads the variation and adaptation research into inner species. This trend has already been widespread, but hasn’t got the deserved theoretical summary and denomination.

    In the preliminary report, BECG has made a comparison about the characteristics between this new research direction and the Modern Synthesis. They proposed that this new direction was gradually independent and separated from the Modern Synthesis during its germination and formation, and it has three characteristics:

    (1) Its independence is firstly presented in that it discards the gene-centered view of Modern Synthesis and turns to emphasize phenotype.
    (2) It introduces the strategy idea into the intraspecific phenotypic comparative study, and then moves to the microbiological level, introducing the strategy idea into the research of micro physio-ecological adaptation.
    (3) It abandons the fitness analytic framework of the Modern Synthesis, adopting a new analytic framework of optimality.

    BECG believed that with the three characteristics, the intraspecific adaptive biology has formed its own basic methods and patterns, and this marks its independence from the Modern Synthesis. It can be defined as: intraspecific phenotypic optimality study based on comparative physio-ecological strategy and microphysiology. BECG suggested naming it as "neo-adaptationism", to distinguish it with the Modern Synthesis Darwinism.

    The report enthusiastically appraised the neo-adaptationism, believing that the most significant is that it introduces the Darwinian paradigm into the intraspecific or inner-life-historical short-term phenotypic and microphysiological adaptations studies. The effective response mechanism, which is built up within organisms and targets at environmental changes and pressures during life history, is essentially the internal adaptive modulation mechanism at physiological level, a complex issue ignored or avoided for a long time by the previous evolutionary biologists. Thus, the emergence and the further development of intraspecific adaptive biology will provide new perspectives theoretically and experimentally to research fields such as molecular biology, physiology, neuroscience, developmental biology, evolutionary biology etc. By the historical experience of previous science, the formation of a new cognition pattern with profound empirical evidences may often give important influence and impetus on the relevant disciplines.
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  6. #5  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    endinfo, this is a discussion forum, not a "post other people's articles and then don't have any comments of my own about it" forum. Please stop simply posting articles and contribute to the discussion, or I will lock the thread.
    /moderator mode
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
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    Well,spuriousmonkey, paralith.

    Both of you are correct. But I can not entirely agree. Maybe the article I transmited is less, so that you have not been able to get more comprehensive understanding about this new study. Therefore, added a new one, can you find some new things in it? And I am sorry, moderator gave me a warning, so I need to fllow the rules.

    Although Iam not the members of the BECG, but Iam their supporter. Physiological Darwinism is a new progress, there are still a lot of people who do not understand about it. So it is too early to jump to conclusions before you know more about it.
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  8. #7  
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    New study?

    There were 1356 new peer reviewed studies in the PubMed search engine with the topic evolution in the month november of this year. PubMed doesn't even include all evolution journals.

    In which journal, volume, pagenumber, was this revolutionary study published then?

    I missed it completely.
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  9. #8  
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    OK,the concentrated summarizing report of this research The Era of Neo-adaptationism,Deep Structure of Being: Its Concepts, Origin and Trends was published in October 2009, on the third volume of the quarterly science journal Frontier Science sponsored by Science and Technology Daily in Peking China, with a big length of 31 pages and about 45000 Chinese Characters.

    Moreover, the three volumes books about this research, on Deep Structure of Being in Chinese edition were published in HongKong in July of this year.

    If you are interested in it and have an e-maill address, I would like to send you the english translation of the report.
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  10. #9  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard spuriousmonkey's Avatar
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    No, not interested.
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    ----“Phenotype has always been the center. What has changed is only to what degree the genotype dictates the phenotype. ”

    It is on the level of gene expression that traditional evolutionary biology make their explaination to the phenotype, but the "physiological Darwinism" (or "neo-adaptationistic biology") is on the level of physiological system. This is an important changing trend,and the deep-structural studies is the comprehensive generalization of this trend and theoretical synthesis.


    ---- No reasonable evolutionary biologist thinks each gene is it's own little island. Each gene (and each regulatory sequence and each structural sequence) operates within the context of the entire genome and the environment currently faced by the body that's holding it. Sure, a lot of recent research in the past few decades has focused on trying to understand the actions of single genes, but I do not think the overall context was ever ignored or considered unimportant. It's a logical progression of knowledge, really. We start by gaining a better understanding of the pieces and then work more on understanding how the pieces work together.


    Yes, we need to “work more on understanding how the pieces work together”. And the deep-structure theory is a neodoxy for a systematic elucidation of how the various pieces work together. Moreover, this theory also has put forward a new experimental method of the developmental phenotypic plasticity and the molecular biological network .

    Spuriousmonkey,Have you ever found any new theory like this in the 1356 new peer reviewed studies in the PubMed before?
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  12. #11  
    Forum Cosmic Wizard paralith's Avatar
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    endinfo, I'm sorry. These concepts are not really new. They may perhaps be utilized more often today than they were in previous times, but that is partly because the depth of our knowledge simply didn't quite permit it. But the importance of the whole phenotype, developmental plasticity, etc - that is not new. And you're not going to convince either spurious or myself that it isn't.
    Man can will nothing unless he has first understood that he must count on no one but himself; that he is alone, abandoned on earth in the midst of his infinite responsibilities, without help, with no other aim than the one he sets himself, with no other destiny than the one he forges for himself on this earth.
    ~Jean-Paul Sartre
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