Evolution, Darwin, Wallace and Patrick Matthew


This video says about itself:

Forsdyke Evolution Academy 01-14 Patrick Matthew

12 October 2011

The second of a series of 12 videos on natural selection from a historical perspective.

From King’s College London in England:

April 20, 2015

The overlooked third man

The horticulturist who came up with the concept of ‘evolution by natural selection‘ 27 years before Charles Darwin did should be more widely acknowledged for his contribution, states a new paper by a King’s College London geneticist.

The paper, published in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, argues that Patrick Matthew deserves to be considered alongside Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace as one of the three originators of the idea of large-scale evolution by .

Furthermore, Matthew’s version of evolution by natural section captures a valuable aspect of the theory that isn’t so clear in Darwin‘s version – namely, that natural selection is a deductive certainty more akin to a ‘law’ than a hypothesis or theory to be tested.

Patrick Matthew (1790-1874) was a Scottish landowner with a keen interest in politics and agronomy. He established extensive orchards of apples and pears on his estate at Gourdie Hill, Perthshire, and became adept in horticulture, silviculture and agriculture.

Whilst Darwin and Wallace‘s 1858 paper to the Linnean Society, On the Origin of Species, secured their place in the history books, Matthew had set out similar ideas 27 years earlier in his book On Naval Timber and Arboriculture. The book, published in 1831, addressed best practices for the cultivation of trees for shipbuilding, but also expanded on his concept of natural selection.

“There is a law universal in nature, tending to render every reproductive being the best possibly suited to its condition that its kind, or that organized matter, is susceptible of, which appears intended to model the physical and mental or instinctive powers, to their highest perfection, and to continue them so. This law sustains the lion in his strength, the hare in her swiftness, and the fox in his wiles.” (Matthew, 1831: 364)

In 1860, Matthew wrote to point out the parallels with his prior work, several months after the publication of On the origin of species. Darwin publically wrote in 1860 “I freely acknowledge that Mr. Matthew has anticipated by many years the explanation which I have offered of the origin of species”, while Wallace wrote publically in 1879 of “how fully and clearly Mr. Matthew apprehended the theory of natural selection, as well as the existence of more obscure laws of evolution, many years in advance of Mr. Darwin and myself”, and further declared Matthew to be “one of the most original thinkers of the first half of the 19th century”. However, both asserted their formulations were independent of Matthew’s.

Even if Matthew did not influence Darwin and Wallace, his writings provide a valuable third point of reference on the notion of macroevolution by natural selection, argues the paper’s author, Dr Michael Weale. Dr Weale has created a public website to act as an online repository of the writings by Patrick Matthew, including some of his lesser-known work.

Dr Michael Weale, from the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics at King’s College London, said: ‘Whilst Darwin and Wallace both deserve recognition for their work, Matthew, the outsider who deduced his idea as part of a grand scheme of a purposeful universe, is the overlooked third man in the story. Matthew’s story is an object lesson in the perils of low-impact publishing. Despite its brevity, and to some extent because of it, Matthew’s work merits our renewed attention.’

Explore further: Darwin’s finches highlight the unity of all life

More information: ‘Patrick Matthew’s Law of Natural Selection’ by Michael Weale is published in the Biological Journal of the Linnean Society and can be accessed here.

From Wikipedia:

Matthew’s idea on society were radical for their times. Although he was a landowner, he was involved with the Chartist movement, and argued that institutions of “hereditary nobility” were detrimental to society. It has been suggested that these views worked against acceptance of his theory of natural selection, being politically incorrect at the time (see Barker, 2001).

Michael Brown memorial tree cut down in Ferguson, USA


Michael Brown memorial tree in Ferguson, USA, before and after vandalism

From inquisitr.com in the USA:

Memorial Tree Planted In Michael Brown’s Name Is Cut Down In Ferguson

A memorial tree for Michael Brown Jr. was found cut in half less than 24 hours after it was planted. The memorial stone that was placed under the tree is also missing.

On Saturday morning the living tree memorial was planted in Michael Brown Jr.’s name at the January Wabash Memorial Park located in Ferguson. The tree was donated by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, reports WSMV TV.

“The tree dedication ceremony to honor Michael Brown, Junior, represents just one of several social justice issues that BCALA champions,” a representative for the group said on Saturday, reports Fox 10.

After photos of the tree before and after being vandalized were posted to KMOV TV‘s Facebook page, hundreds of followers left comments.

“I had a feeling this would happen, it is a shame MO people have to live through such hate. I am glad I was brought up knowing, we do not hate, we are all equal, and no violence, I think some people need to learn this,” Barb Carpenter O’Keefe wrote.

“Mike was someone’s son. None of us are perfect. Let his family grieve and have a memorial for him. You may not love him but his family and friends did. Really is sad to me that some ignorant person took time out to cut a tree!!” wrote JoAnn Moser.

“That’s horrible.. No matter what happened, whoever planted that tree did so for a reason. Leave it alone. That’s the whole problem no one wants to let this whole thing go…they are working hard to put things in place to help these issues out, let them have time to work,” posted Shelly Prince Jones.

Not all of the comments on the post were kind and many worry that this recent act of cruelty and vandalism could spark a new round of issues in Ferguson.

Michael Brown Jr. was shot and killed by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, 2014. Brown was only 18-years-old when he was shot by Darren Wilson, 28, of the Ferguson Police Department. … The protests lasted more than a week and resulted in nightly curfews.

The shooting also sparked vigorous debates about law enforcements relationships with African Americans.

Police officials in Ferguson are currently looking into the vandalism at the park and have yet to make any statement other than an ‘investigation is ongoing.’

[Photo courtesy of KMOV 4’s Facebook Page]

‘We can’t even mourn': Michael Brown memorial tree cut down in suspected vandalism incident: here.

Michael Brown’s memorial tree ‘cut down’ after one night in Ferguson: here.

The city of Parma, Missouri, has seen mass resignations among the local police force after the city’s first black female mayor, Tyrus Byrd, was sworn in on Tuesday: here.

Florida, USA: Study Finds Tampa Police Gave 80 Percent of Bike Tickets to Blacks: here.

Eric Harris shooting: Sheriff offers apology to family of man killed by reserve deputy: here.

A new civil rights movement may emerge in US in the wake of police shootings. The protests over police shootings of unarmed black men may signify a new kind of civil rights movement based less on spectacle and more on social media and data: here.

Sea otters in Canada, video


This video says about itself:

Sea Otters vs. Urchins in Canada’s Kelp Forests

7 April 2015

“When you see a sea otter, they’re usually either eating or digesting,” often munching on urchins, says ecologist Anne Salomon, a Pew marine fellow. That’s a good thing for some kelp beds. Without otters to control urchin numbers, the spiky shellfish can devour the beds, leaving barren seascapes behind.

Fifty years ago, sea otters were so sought after for their fur that they disappeared from the Canadian coast. But now they’re bouncing back and—as seen in this video—competing with humans for the region’s shellfish.

World’s largest marine reserve around Pitcairn islands


This video says about itself:

Edge of the World: Stunning Pitcairn Islands Revealed

18 March 2015

In 2012 National Geographic‘s Pristine Seas project went on an expedition to the Pitcairn Islands—a legendary and remote archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean—and returned with footage of incredible natural wonders underwater and on land. The expedition led to the historic announcement that the British government has created the largest contiguous marine reserve in the world, protecting this one-of-a-kind ecosystem. Join National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala as he meets with some of Pitcairn’s residents and explores the waters around the islands.

Read more about the announcement and the area around the Pitcairn Islands, one of the most pristine places on Earth: here.

From Wildlife Extra:

The world’s largest marine reserve given green light

The UK government has announced the creation of the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve in the southern Pacific Ocean.

The Pitcairn Islands is one of the remotest places in the world, and protecting its 322,000 sq miles (over 834,000 sq km, or roughly three and a half times the area of Britain) of pristine waters will safeguard countless species of marine animals – mammals, seabirds and fish.

The government’s decision was endorsed by two leading organisations working to preserve the world’s oceans, the Pew Charitable Trusts and the National Geographic Society, both of which joined the local elected body, the Pitcairn Island Council, in 2013, to submit a proposal calling for the creation of a marine reserve to protect these spectacular waters.

“With this designation, the United Kingdom raises the bar for protection of our ocean and sets a new standard for others to follow,” said Jo Royle, Global Ocean Legacy, a project of Pew and its partners that advocates for the establishment of the world’s great marine parks.

“The United Kingdom is the caretaker of more than 6 million sq km of ocean — the fifth-largest marine area of any country. Through this designation, British citizens are playing a vital role in ensuring the health of our seas.

“The Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve will build a refuge of untouched ocean to protect and conserve a wealth of marine life. We celebrate members of Parliament for pressing for this action.”

National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Enric Sala, head of the Society’s Pristine Seas project, says: “Our scientific exploration of the area revealed entirely new species as well as an abundance of top predators like sharks. It was like travelling to a new world full of hidden and unknown treasures, a world that will now be preserved for generations to come.”

In a statement, the Pitcairn Isleand Council said: “The people of Pitcairn are extremely excited about designation of the world’s largest marine reserve in our vast and unspoiled waters of the Pitcairn Islands, including Ducie, Oeno, and Henderson Islands. We are proud to have developed and led this effort in partnership with Pew and National Geographic to protect these spectacular waters we call home for generations to come.”

A March 2012 scientific survey of Pitcairn’s marine environment, led by the National Geographic Pristine Seas project in partnership with Pew, revealed a vibrant ecosystem that includes the world’s deepest-known living plant, a species of encrusting coralline algae found 382m (1,253ft) below sea level.

The reserve will also protect one of the two remaining raised coral atolls on the planet as well as 40 Mile Reef, the deepest and most well-developed coral reef known in the world.

In conjunction with the designation, the Bertarelli Foundation announced a five-year commitment to support the monitoring of the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve as part of Pew’s Project Eyes on the Seas, using a technology known as the Virtual Watch Room.

With this satellite monitoring system, developed through a collaboration between Pew and the UK-based company Satellite Applications Catapult, government officials will be able to detect illegal fishing activity in real time.

This is the first time any government has combined creation of a marine reserve with the most up-to-date technology for surveillance and enforcement of a protected area.

Stock dove, wood duck and flowers


Endegeest, 11 April 2015

This photo is about flowering shrubs at Endegeest estate in the Netherlands on 11 March 2015. Like the other photo of this blog post, this is a cell phone photo.

Today, Endegeest is home to a psychiatric institution. In the seventeenth century, when it was built in its present form, Endegeest castle was home to famous philosopher René Descartes, exiled from France. Near the entrance of the castle is a bust of Descartes.

As we arrived, a ring-necked parakeet flying and calling.

On the chimney of a building, an Egyptian geese couple calling.

Various flowers: Gagea pratensis; lesser celandine; and fumewort.

Great spotted woodpeckers; at one point, three on the same tree.

One can hear chiffchaff, great tit, robin and nuthatch.

A blue tit.

A stock dove on a tree.

Endegeest, on 11 April 2015

At a woodland edge, Egyptian geese. And a male wood duck. A feral species in the Netherlands; originally from North America. About wood ducks: here.

On the meadow: Canada geese. Mute swans. Coot. Moorhen.

A northern lapwing drives a white stork away.

Back near the castle. A ruddy shelduck-Egyptian goose hybrid bird.

A male and a female gadwall on another meadow.

Green woodpecker sound in woodland.

A grey heron on its nest in a tree.

We go on, to Lentevreugd nature reserve in Wassenaar.

Northern lapwings.

Grey lag geese.

Water rail sound.

A buzzard flying above the trees.

Australian quokkas and plants, new study


This video from Australia is called Quokka with baby.

By Shannon Verhagen in Australia:

April 9, 2015

Mapping the future of Rottnest‘s furry friends

We all know Rottnest Island‘s iconic quokkas (Setonix brachyurus) love eating treats from tourists and poking around inside public buildings but local researchers have identified plant species on the island that the quokkas need for food and shelter.

The Murdoch University study identified eight plant species used for food and four used for shelter by the quokkas and mapped their extent and distribution using hyperspectral remote sensing data.

They collected fresh faecal samples from 210 quadrats across the islands’ twelve native vegetation types over a two week period in 2011 to conduct dietary analysis.

The study found a clear preference for Guichenotia ledifolia, a non-significant food source for Rottnest Island quokkas 50 years ago, which suggests compositional changes in island vegetation over time may have caused this species to be more dominant in the landscape.

Researcher Patricia Fleming says a history of grazing, fire and land clearing has altered Rottnest’s vegetation structure and composition and therefore the quokkas’ vegetation use.

“The diet of these animals is likely to have changed over the last 50 years and probably has shifted from that of over 200 years ago,” Ms Fleming says.

“The vegetation on the island has changed markedly over that time, largely due to anthropogenic influences.”

Quokkas were found to have a clear preference for Melaleuca lanceolata and Acacia rostellifera for shelter, highlighting the importance of dense, protective vegetation.

They used remotely sensed, hyperspectral airborne imagery to map the principal food and shelter species in order to determine the locations where the preferred species are evident and where the principal species overlap.

Ms Fleming says managing these key habitat locations is essential as the Rottnest Island population suffers severe seasonal crashes due to a lack of permanent water bodies and intense browsing pressure from other quokkas.

“There are definitely times of the year for example, at the end of summer when the first cold nights hit those that are in worst condition, that animals are likely to be physiologically stressed,” Ms Fleming says.

“The forest [on the mainland] has more resources and the animals can probably access a much greater area to obtain their requirements.”

“The Rottnest Island population is resource limited.”

“It is likely that loss of a key plant species will alter the carrying capacity of the island,” she says.

More information: “Spatial analysis of limiting resources on an island: diet and shelter use reveal sites of conservation importance for the Rottnest Island quokka.” Wildlife Research, 41(6), 510.