Archive for JBS Haldane

Eat Prey Love

Posted in Ecological resilience, Evolution with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 7, 2012 by Rob Wallace

I wrote the following for a conservation biology class fifteen years ago, when I was but a wee lad. Despite the outdated references, and a few nip-and-tuck edits, I think it’s aged gracefully. I’ve added two updates for some context.

Vero Wynne-Edwards proposed animal species—specifically the red grouse he studied—regulate their own numbers to avoid overexploitation of their food supply. The contention effectively launched modern evolutionary theory, if only in virulent opposition.

George Williams wrote a scathing critique of such theories of group selection. William Hamilton derived the concept of inclusive fitness, whereby relatives help each other to promote their shared genetics. John Maynard Smith, among others, developed an evolutionary game theory, in which altruism was instead a selfish act, part and parcel of a larger tournament of favors and punishments.

Continue reading