ranking biological success

Tue Jan 11 09:59:11 EST 1994

The problem with this success discussion is that people are
trying to come up with an absolute measure.  If we think of
"success" as a measure of "fitness" then we would realize that
it is always a RELATIVE measure.  In that case the measure
should always be used between sister "entities".  For
example, two individuals in a population, two populations,
two sibling species, two sibling genera, etc.  Thus, a
comparison between humans and ants is meaningless.  One
could compare humans and other great apes or compare
the phylum cordata with the phylum arthropoda.  The most
reasonable measure of long-term fitness that I have come
across is the duration of the clade (species, genus, etc.).
See chapter 2 of Endler, Natural Selection in the Wild,
Princeton University Press, for an illuminating discussion
on this issue.

* Samuel M. Scheiner                 +                            *
* Department of Biological Sciences  +    In a bureaucracy it     *
* Northern Illinois University       +                            *
* DeKalb, Illinois 60115             +    is much easier to get   *
* Phone:  (815) 753-7847             +                            *
* Fax:    (815) 753-0461             +    forgiveness than        *
* Bitnet: t80sms1 at niu.bitnet         +                            *
* Internet: t80sms1 at mvs.cso.niu.edu  +    permission.             *

More information about the Bioforum mailing list