Chasing the Red Queen: The Evolutionary Race Between by Dr. Andy Dyer PDF

Environmental Studies

By Dr. Andy Dyer

In the race to feed the world’s seven billion humans, we're at a standstill. during the last century, we've got constructed more and more powerful and complex insecticides, but in 2014, the typical percent of U.S. plants misplaced to agricultural pests used to be at the least in 1944. to take advantage of a metaphor the sphere of evolutionary biology borrowed from Alice in Wonderland, farmers needs to run ever speedier to stick within the comparable place—i.e., produce an identical yields.

With Chasing the crimson Queen, Andy Dyer deals the 1st booklet to use the purple Queen speculation to agriculture. He illustrates that once choice strain raises, species evolve in reaction, making a endless, perpetually-escalating pageant among predator (us) and prey (bugs and weeds). the result's farmers are stuck in a vicious cycle of chemical dependence, caught utilizing more and more risky and costly toxics to overcome again gradually resistant pests.

to wreck the cycle, we needs to research the technological know-how in the back of it. Dyer examines one of many world’s such a lot urgent difficulties as a organic case examine. He provides key innovations, from Darwin’s rules of typical choice to genetic version and adaptive phenotypes. realizing the basics of ecology and biology is step one to “playing the purple Queen,” and escaping her unwinnable race. The book’s novel body can assist scholars, researchers, and policy-makers alike observe that wisdom to the severe job of accomplishing foodstuff security.

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Additional resources for Chasing the Red Queen: The Evolutionary Race Between Agricultural Pests and Poisons

Sample text

This is true whether the predator is a specialist on a single prey species or a generalist for many prey species. If the predator is a specialist, its success will reduce the abundance of the prey, which then leads to a decline in predator abundance. Once the abundance of the predator goes down, the prey-species population will recover, which will subsequently stimulate growth of the predator population. This cyclic behavior is based on the fact that predator abundance is always a response to prey abundance; that is, the growth of the predator population lags behind c.

A. MacArthur and E. O. Wilson, The Theory of Island Biogeography (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1967). d. This does not apply to host–parasite relationships. The Evolution of Farming: Scaling Up Productivity 19 that of the prey species. When the predator is a generalist, the abundance of the particular prey species will be reduced to the point that encountering individuals of the prey species becomes uncommon. Individual predators will begin to focus on other sources of food. That is to say, they will switch their prey preference to a more abundant species with a higher encounter rate and thus higher predation success.

The occasional outbreaks of insects or other pest species were managed with focused effort by humans to control the problem by manual removal of easily seen pests, precise application of general-purpose, naturally occurring toxins such as sulfur, and the physical pulling or hoeing of weeds. The objective was control and not eradication, which was an obvious impossibility with the limited technology. A significant part of a farmer’s costs were in paying for human resources both to produce the crop and to harvest it.

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