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Competing in the Macrocosm
Key Takeaways from 'Big houses, big cars, superfleas and the costs of reproduction'
It is conceivable that plants evolve towards ever greater competitive ability—that is, greater ability to acquire resources before their neighbor—but given the finite resource base, selection will not produce ever larger plants even though it consistently favors those that are larger.
— Kate Crosby | Genome Biology and Evolution, Volume 3, 2011
After reading Crosby’s paper which you can find here, she suggested I read Big houses, big cars, superfleas and the costs of reproduction which picked apart this same idea in the macrocosm.
3 Most Broadly Relevant Things I Read in that Paper —
1 day differences in the way time gets spent at important stages of development have compounding interest towards an organism’s ability to acquire resources and reproduce in the future.
‘Super organisms’, a subset of a species with a substantial advantage in a certain trait(example: size) come from resource rich environments.
Super organisms don’t spread aggressively to other environments. They are only advantageous to the whole of nature in certain places or times.
Some Fun Definitions from the same Article —
Darwinian Demon: an organism that matures instantly and produces an infinite number of offspring.
Lack's principle: The number of offspring a species has on average has been adapted to correspond with the largest number of young for which the parents are able to provide sufficient food.
The Main Idea —
Organisms and their environment are uniquely linked.
The default mode of organisms in nature is not to consume resources infinitely in exchange for greater size, reproductive fitness or gain in another trait category. In reality, organisms and nature are power law distributed, meaning that change in one results in a proportional relative change in the other.
I like to read journal articles. Typically papers that expose new veins of first principal thinking. I thought these ideas had some unique bites worth thinking about in broader context.
Next week, I’m going to talk about how a concept from astrophysics helped me grow a team of 7 internally and 130+ subcontractors.
I hope you enjoyed.