Mixing evolution and ecology
June 14, 2014 | James Kohl
Population genetic structure of gray wolves (Canis lupus) in a marine archipelago suggests island-mainland differentiation consistent with dietary niche
Excerpt: “Evolutionary ecology and genetic differentiation between mainland and island wolves…”
My comment: This subheading mixes two different concepts.
1) Evolution of genetic differences in cell types between mainland and island wolves.
2) Ecological variation and epigenetic effects of diet, which are directly linked from food odors and pheromones to ecological adaptations in cell type differentiation. Cell type differentiation is manifested in morphological and behavioral phenotypes of species from microbes to man.
For example, in white-throated sparrows, research has shown that a difference in uniparental or biparental feeding results in fixed amino acid substitutions and different morphological and behavioral phenotypes. That suggests differences in wolves can also be linked to amino acid substitutions, but not to mutations and natural selection.
No experimental evidence of biologically-based cause and effect in any vertebrate links mutations and natural selection to the evolution of genetic differences in cell types, or to the evolution of different morphological and behavioral phenotypes like those of birds. All experimental evidence of biophysically-constrained cell type differentiation links nutrient-uptake, fixed amino acid substitutions, and the metabolism of nutrients to species-specific pheromones to cell type differentiation via conserved molecular mechanisms that link the epigenetic landscape to the physical landscape of DNA in the organized genomes of the cell types of all species.
In the context of nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled cell type differentiation and differences between wolves and dogs, I wrote (in Kohl, 2013):
“The epigenetic effects of nutrients on evolved differences in the diet and starch digestion of dogs and wolves (Axelsson et al., 2013) were detailed at the same time differences in the socialization of these subspecies were attributed to explorations involving only chemosensory input in 3 to 4-week-old wolf pups. For comparison, differences in starch digestion and exploration involving multisensory input in dogs begin a mere 2 weeks later (Lord, 2013). The differences in nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled socialization, however, extend across a life-time of more aggressive behavior in wolves that have not been domesticated because less digested starch from their diet genetically predisposes infants to first respond to olfactory/pheromonal cues as they initially explore their postnatal environment.”
It should be obvious that prenatal cell type differentiation is quickly followed by postnatal cell type differentiation in vertebrates such as dogs and wolves, because larval cell type differentiation is followed by life history transitions in cell type differentiation in invertebrates.
Examples of ecological speciation continue to show that ecological adaptations are nutrient-dependent and pheromone-controlled. The ecological adaptations are manifested in morphological and behavioral phenotypes associated with cell type differentiation via amino acid substitutions during life history transitions.
Mixing evolution and ecology in reports on genetic differentiation manifested in populations of any species or subspecies serves only to confuse those who have not yet taken the time to learn that olfactory/pheromonal input and the conserved molecular mechanisms of cell type differentiation link the epigenetic landscape to the physical landscape of DNA in the organized genomes of all species. For example, a geneticist who is a research associate at the Institute for Creation Research asserted that the New Dog Genome Research Nixes Evolutionary Paradigm based in part on the report by Axelsson et al., 2013. Continuing to mix ecology and evolution will probably add fuel to the fires of Creationist research, just as Dozahansky did in 1964 and in again in 1973.
First there was his negative comment about those who lacked understanding of molecular biology. He wrote: “The notion has gained some currency that the only worthwhile biology is molecular biology. All else is “bird watching” or “butterfly collecting.” Bird watching and butterfly collecting are occupations manifestly unworthy of serious scientists!”
Then, in 1973 he published: Nothing in Biology Makes Any Sense Except in the Light of Evolution (link opens pdf), and claimed “I am a creationist and an evolutionist. Evolution is God’s, or Nature’s, method of Creation.”
In both published works he noted that amino acid substitutions differentiate the cell types of primates. We’ve since seen examples of amino acid substitutions that differentiate the cell types of species from microbes to man.
Therefore, the issues dividing the creationists and evolutionists seem to come down to experimental evidence of nutrient-dependent pheromone-controlled fixed amino acid substitutions that stabilize the genome. The fixed amino acid substitutions can be compared to mutations that perturb protein folding but yet are somehow supposedly linked via natural selection to the evolution of observable biodiversity.
However, the biodiversity observed by population geneticists was first used to invent neo-Darwinism. Similar observations have since continued to be used to tout its explanatory power in the absence of experimental evidence that supports any theories.
What this suggest to me is that if Dobzhansky were alive today, he would claim to be a creationist and ecologist who has always understood the fact that Darwin’s ‘conditions of life’ are nutrient dependent and pheromone controlled. He might say “I am a creationist and an ecological adaptationist!” But I think he would require experimental evidence of how mutations and natural selection result in biodiversity before again claiming “I am a creationist and an evolutionary ecologist!” Experimental evidence always makes it more difficult to fool a serious scientist, and Dobzhansky was no fool.