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Author Topic:   Diversification: Random Walk or Biological Determinism?
Fosdick 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3574 days)
Posts: 1793
From: Upper Slobovia
Joined: 12-11-2006


Message 1 of 35 (488516)
11-12-2008 12:43 PM


It is easy enough for us to see that biological evolution will lead eventually to biological diversification. The most dramatic suggestion of this is the trend of diversification following the Permian Extinction:

Some would say, however, that there is no trend toward diversification. Instead, it’s only the mirage of a staggering drunk. Is biological diversification merely the result of the random-walk phenomenon? Or is there something meta-evolutionary about it? Does nature allow for any such determinism as this to foster some undiscovered holist principle?

I take notice of the evidence of natural diversification in non-living things as well, like rocks. There are several species of quartz, you know, that have accrued over time. So maybe nature allows for deterministic diversification in all of her domains.

Or maybe not? Any thoughts?

(Biological Evolution please?)

—FTF


I can see Lower Slobovia from my house.
Replies to this message:
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 Message 16 by AnswersInGenitals, posted 11-15-2008 8:16 PM Fosdick has responded

    
AdminNosy
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Posts: 4754
From: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Joined: 11-11-2003


Message 2 of 35 (488519)
11-12-2008 12:46 PM


Thread moved here from the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
StevenFire
Junior Member (Idle past 3686 days)
Posts: 3
Joined: 11-10-2008


Message 3 of 35 (488532)
11-12-2008 2:34 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Fosdick
11-12-2008 12:43 PM


Probability is a hard science. It tells us that at the roll of a dice the same number could come up at an infinite number of throws. However I don't think that we yet have the knowledge to accurately interpret randomness occurring in the Universe, or what ancient Greeks referred to as Chaos. (apart from old physics, forces, etc).

So events may be following certain RULES, but ones of which complexity may well be beyond our reach.


This message is a reply to:
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Fosdick 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3574 days)
Posts: 1793
From: Upper Slobovia
Joined: 12-11-2006


Message 4 of 35 (488542)
11-12-2008 7:32 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by StevenFire
11-12-2008 2:34 PM


Steven, I'll take what you say to mean that you think there are meta-Darwinian forces at work to spread the biological news around.

—FTF


I can see Lower Slobovia from my house.
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RAZD
Member
Posts: 19754
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 5.9


Message 5 of 35 (488544)
11-12-2008 7:56 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Fosdick
11-12-2008 7:32 PM


random diversity
Hey hoot.

Steven, I'll take what you say to mean that you think there are meta-Darwinian forces at work to spread the biological news around.

Actually I think it is an emergent property of random events, arbitrary human categorizations, and the fact that any graph of distribution would show a skewed distribution, simply because you cannot have negative value.

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Fosdick, posted 11-12-2008 7:32 PM Fosdick has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by Fosdick, posted 11-12-2008 8:18 PM RAZD has acknowledged this reply
 Message 7 by NosyNed, posted 11-12-2008 9:03 PM RAZD has responded

  
Fosdick 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3574 days)
Posts: 1793
From: Upper Slobovia
Joined: 12-11-2006


Message 6 of 35 (488546)
11-12-2008 8:18 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by RAZD
11-12-2008 7:56 PM


Re: random diversity
Thanks for joining in, RAZD.

RAZD writes:

Actually I think is it an emergent property of random events...


That's really the core question of this issue: Is diversification, in and of itself, an emergent property? If so it would seem that such an emergent property could exert pressure on a large biological system, which might be measured over the long term on planet Earth as three families of marine life per one million years (see graph in Message 1).

—FTF


I can see Lower Slobovia from my house.
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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8837
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003


Message 7 of 35 (488549)
11-12-2008 9:03 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by RAZD
11-12-2008 7:56 PM


Real effect
I don't think if is because of a skewed distribution or arbitrary categorizations.

I think the increase in diversity is a consequence of evolutionary processes operating in an adequately diverse environment.

The evolutionary processes operate to 'search' the available space for phenotypes. This 'search' is very, very thorough and relentless.

If the environment is diverse enough the 'search' will find more and more finally tuned things to squeeze into it.

When you consider that the environment also includes all other organisms then you can see that diversity can be driven to increase.

Only if the environment is sparse or undergoes huge disruption would this effect be reversed.

In other words, I think increasing diversity is the usual consequence of evolutionary processes.

Also, I think it will tend to curve upward as the surrounding diversity (other organisms) feeds back into the processes.


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 Message 5 by RAZD, posted 11-12-2008 7:56 PM RAZD has responded

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Coyote
Member (Idle past 180 days)
Posts: 6117
Joined: 01-12-2008


Message 8 of 35 (488551)
11-12-2008 9:28 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by NosyNed
11-12-2008 9:03 PM


Re: Real effect
I agree with your comments.

But they can be simplified: evolution is 1) opportunistic and 2) uses trial and error feedback.


Religious belief does not constitute scientific evidence, nor does it convey scientific knowledge.
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RAZD
Member
Posts: 19754
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 5.9


Message 9 of 35 (488562)
11-12-2008 11:17 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by NosyNed
11-12-2008 9:03 PM


Re: Real effect
I don't think if is because of a skewed distribution

Things get more complex because of trial and error trying all avenues, but not being able to be simpler than a single cell. This skews the distribution towards increased complexity with time. With only limited resources you can either have a lot of different kinds of similar one-celled life OR you can have life diversified into multicellular forms.

or arbitrary categorizations.

How do you measure diversity? by arbitrary categories. If one "lumps" you get more diversity than if one "splits". In one sense all we have is one form of life: DNA life. All the rest of it is just packaging for how the DNA gets around and reproduces.

In other words, I think increasing diversity is the usual consequence of evolutionary processes.

So is stasis, with the difference between diversity and stasis being random situations or events that divide populations.

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by NosyNed, posted 11-12-2008 9:03 PM NosyNed has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by Fosdick, posted 11-13-2008 11:52 AM RAZD has acknowledged this reply
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Fosdick 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3574 days)
Posts: 1793
From: Upper Slobovia
Joined: 12-11-2006


Message 10 of 35 (488593)
11-13-2008 11:52 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by RAZD
11-12-2008 11:17 PM


Re: Real effect
RAZD writes:

How do you measure diversity? by arbitrary categories. If one "lumps" you get more diversity than if one "splits". In one sense all we have is one form of life: DNA life. All the rest of it is just packaging for how the DNA gets around and reproduces.

In other words, I think increasing diversity is the usual consequence of evolutionary processes.

So is stasis, with the difference between diversity and stasis being random situations or events that divide populations.


Is said same diversification a consequence or an emergent property? I like Nosy's "consequence," because diversification happens after evolution occurs, if the environment is adaquently diverse. But, then again, water happens after the oxidation of hydrogen in a certain tempearure range, and it is considered by some chemists and physicists as an emergent property.

—FTF


I can see Lower Slobovia from my house.
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StevenFire
Junior Member (Idle past 3686 days)
Posts: 3
Joined: 11-10-2008


Message 11 of 35 (488646)
11-14-2008 6:23 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by RAZD
11-12-2008 11:17 PM


Re: Real effect
Things get more complex because of trial and error trying all avenues, but not being able to be simpler than a single cell

Hi Razd,

I don't think that things have become more complex. I find hard to believe that even the reactions occurring in the primordial bath or the first cells are simple and maybe will never be elucidated. What has occurred is a diversification in structures, the complexity (e.g. in reactions) has remained, but the communication between structures has changed. Evolution doesn't increase complexity.


This message is a reply to:
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Replies to this message:
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 Message 13 by Percy, posted 11-14-2008 8:35 AM StevenFire has not yet responded

    
RAZD
Member
Posts: 19754
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 5.9


Message 12 of 35 (488647)
11-14-2008 7:35 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by StevenFire
11-14-2008 6:23 AM


Re: Real effect
Hey StevenFire,

I find hard to believe that even the reactions occurring in the primordial bath or the first cells are simple and maybe will never be elucidated. What has occurred is a diversification in structures, the complexity (e.g. in reactions) has remained, but the communication between structures has changed.

The chemical reactions in the first cells would likely be less complex (information) than outside due to being fewer in number (rather than all possible reactions).

The diversification of structures can be seen as more complex, with different proteins being constructed and assembled.

The (theoretical) combination of two prokaryotes into a single eukaryote could be seen as reducing the information of the two individuals. Same with chloroplasts in plant cells.

The combination of cells into an organism structure would be similar to the combination of atoms into a molecular structure (some show chirality too), and the degree of complexity would be related to how you could describe the structure.

Evolution doesn't increase complexity.

I'd say it changes complexity, either increased or decreased (the change in hereditary traits in populations from generation to generation).

This guy (Epulopiscium fishelsoni) has a pretty complex life cycle compared to other bacteria, the DNA is some 500x's the human genome, and it gives live birth to daughter cells formed inside it's cell, rather than budding.

Because it is (random) increase or decrease, it is a skewed distribution - you can only go so far into the decreased direction and still have a cell\organism.

Enjoy.


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand
Rebel American Zen Deist
... to learn ... to think ... to live ... to laugh ...
to share.


• • • Join the effort to solve medical problems, AIDS/HIV, Cancer and more with Team EvC! (click) • • •

This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by StevenFire, posted 11-14-2008 6:23 AM StevenFire has responded

Replies to this message:
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Percy
Member
Posts: 18307
From: New Hampshire
Joined: 12-23-2000
Member Rating: 3.2


Message 13 of 35 (488649)
11-14-2008 8:35 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by StevenFire
11-14-2008 6:23 AM


Re: Real effect
Complexity is usually measured as a function of the number of elements in a system and the number of relationships between those elements. By this measure, modern cells are more complex than primitive cells. The primitive prokaryotes, no nucleus and usually only a single DNA strand, are much simpler than the later eukaryotes with their cell nucleus and many chromosomes.

I understand that you would like to leave structure out of the equation, but I question whether that's really valid, and even if adhere to your preference of only considering reactions, the difference in the number of reactions and interrelationships between reactions for primitive versus modern cells is still dramatic.

While evolution doesn't have to increase complexity, in practice competition puts species into an evolutionary arms race, and this generates complexity as species are forced to perform continual evolutionary one-upmanship.

--Percy


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StevenFire
Junior Member (Idle past 3686 days)
Posts: 3
Joined: 11-10-2008


Message 14 of 35 (488701)
11-15-2008 1:56 AM
Reply to: Message 12 by RAZD
11-14-2008 7:35 AM


Re: Real effect
The (theoretical) combination of two prokaryotes into a single eukaryote could be seen as reducing the information

and
it changes complexity, either increased or decreased

Razd,

So it would be safe assuming that diversification is reaching a less complex/less chaotic/more ordered system. That is fine by me since entropy in the Universe increases but not necessarily that on Earth.

the DNA is some 500x's the human genome

Be careful when associating length of dna with complexity, most of dna is non-coding or "junk-dna".


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Fosdick 
Suspended Member (Idle past 3574 days)
Posts: 1793
From: Upper Slobovia
Joined: 12-11-2006


Message 15 of 35 (488709)
11-15-2008 12:14 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Percy
11-14-2008 8:35 AM


Re: Real effect
Percy writes:

Complexity is usually measured as a function of the number of elements in a system and the number of relationships between those elements.


Percy,

That's probably an acceptable definition for complexity, but it reflects more on the mechanical aspects of the system. If I were to use the term "complexity" in describing a system from information theory's standpoint, I would want to address the "uncertainty" about the system. Complexity, then, becomes a measure of the system's "entropy". In Shannon's theory, "conditional entropy" S (i.e., complexity) is shown as:

S = D — I,

where D is the systems "diversity" and I is the systems "average mutual information." (I'd show the equations, but it takes a little trouble—best to consult an information theory textbook or website).

I offer this only as an alternative to the mechanical notion of complexity.

—FTF


I can see Lower Slobovia from my house.
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 Message 13 by Percy, posted 11-14-2008 8:35 AM Percy has not yet responded

    
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