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dissuade Coevolution, With Particular Reference To Herbivory











COEVOLUTION
with particular reference to herbivory









BIOL 0106
ASSESED COURSEWORK
RORY AULD
JANUARY 2000




COEVOLUTION WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO HERBIVORY

 Of all the extant organisms in the world, it is believed that terrestrial plants and their natural enemies constitute more than forty percent. Moreover, plants exhibit a remarkable diversity of supposedly defensive characteristics including trichomes, spines, silica, secondary chemical compounds, temporal avoidance of enemies, and structures along with chemicals that attract predators of their natural enemies. In addition, the exploitation of the plants and their defences is facilitated by a vast number of behavioural, morphological and physiological adaptations by herbivores
Accounting for this diversity has been a major area of research for nearly a century. The seminal article, attributing this diversity to coevolution, was published in 1964 by Ehrlich and Raven.  They suggested plants and herbivorous insects evolved reciprocally by the following events: Plants, through occasional mutations and recombinations, produced a series of chemical compounds not directly related to their basic metabolic pathways. Some of these compounds, by chance, serve to reduce or destroy the palatability of the plant in which they are produced. Such a plant, protected from the attack of phytophagous animals, would in a sense have entered a new adaptive zone. Evolutionary radiation of plants might follow.
If a new recombinant or mutant appeared in a population of insects that enabled individuals to feed on some previously protected plant, selection could carry the line into a new adaptive zone. Here it would be free to diversify in the absence of competing herbivores. Ehrlich and Raven (1964) emphasised the importance of the reciprocal selective responses between ecologically linked organisms.
Since 1964, studies have questioned Ehrlich and Ravens postulates. Due to the nature of evolutionary study, ideas are only as strong as the background in the literature; that is, acceptance by the scientific community depends upon its knowledge. In time people learn more and previously weak theories become more feasible. Alternatively, and more so in science, accepted work in time becomes disregarded (example; until the 1950s geologists believed in static continents, now all believe in plate techtonics and continental drift). The significance of this is that any theory published is only speculation of what is happening in these interactions. The knowledge is blind in that historical findings leading to these assumptions are not concrete. What happened in the past might be a different picture to what we have envisaged so far.
Thompson (1999) has proposed that there are crucial components to coevolution. These need to be recognised before we can fully understand coevolution.  Firstly, phylogenetic studies are providing five kinds of data important in interpreting the historical context of coevolving interactions. 1) Shared traits. Phylogenetic studies are allowing us to evaluate which traits of interacting species were already present in the hosts ancestors. This allows us to determine whether traits are coevolved or merely a trait exhibited as a consequence of the organisms genotype. For example, Yucca plants provide a source of food for host specific Yucca moths, with which they are believed to have coevolved. Examining the phylogenetic trees of these moths elucidated this. Most moths in this family (Prodoxidae) exhibited host specificity (Davis et al 1992). Before this technology, people would have assumed the specificity of the Yucca moth to be a product of the coevolution.
This brings up a useful comment by Vermeij (1994). Almost all inferences about coevolution are derived from the existence of trends in the expression of traits that function during interactions between species. Evolutionary trends have often been found by analysing ancestor-dependant relationships within monophyletic groups, or clades. Although many trends are best sought this way, others cannot in principle be detected within single clades and instead arise when ecologically and functionally comparable clades replace each other through time.  
2) Unique traits. The Yucca moths as described above have tentacles on their mouthparts used to hold pollen for later active transfer to floral stigmas. Using phylogenetic studies, it has been found that the ancestors to these moths did not have tentacles, suggesting a coevolutionary adaptation.
3) Relative malleability of traits. Regardless of selection intensities, some traits may be more malleable than others. Recognising this enables us to discriminate between organisms that appear to be evolutionarily ... more

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The War in Vietnam

The War in Vietnam


       Direct U.S. military participation in The Vietnam War, the nation's
longest, cost fifty-eight thousand American lives.  Only the Civil War and the
two world wars were deadlier for Americans.  During the decade of Vietnam
beginning in 1964, the U.S Treasury spent over $140 billion on the war, enough
money to fund urban renewal projects in every major American city.  Despite
these enormous costs and their accompanying public and private trauma for the
American people, the United States failed, for the first time in its history, to
achieve its stated war aims.  The goal was to preserve a separate, independent,
noncommunist government in South Vietnam, but after April 1975, the communist
Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV) ruled the entire nation.
The initial reasons for U.S. involvement in Vietnam seemed logical and
compelling to American leaders.  Following its success in World War II, the
United States faced the future with a sense of moral rectitude and material
confidence.  From Washington's perspective, the principal threat to U.S.
security and world peace was monolithic, dictatorial communism emanating from he
Soviet Union.  Any communist anywhere, at home or abroad, was, by definition,
and enemy of the United States.  Drawing an analogy with the unsuccessful
appeasement of fascist dictators before World War II, the Truman administration
believed that any sign of communist aggression must be met quickly and
forcefully by the United States and its allies.  This reactive policy was known
as containment.
In Vietnam the target of containment was Ho Chi Minh and the Vietminh
front he had created in 1941.  Ho and his chief lieutenants were communists with
long-standing connections to the Soviet Union.  They were also ardent Vietnamese
nationalists who fought first to rid their country of the Japanese and then,
after 1945, to prevent France from reestablishing its former colonial mastery
over Vietnam and the rest of Indochina.  Harry S. Truman and other American
leaders, having no sympathy for French colonialism, favored Vietnamese
independence.  But expanding communist control of Eastern Europe and the triumph
of the communists in China's civil was made France's war against Ho seem an
anticommunist rather than a colonialist effort.  When France agreed to a quansi-
independent Vietnam under Emperor Bao Dai as an alternative to Ho's DRV, the
United States decided to support the French position.
The American conception of Vietnam as a cold war battleground largely
ignored the struggle for social justice and national sovereignty occurring
within the country.  American attention focused primarily on Europe and on Asia
beyond Vietnam.  Aid to France in Indochina was a quid pro quo for French
cooperation with America's plans for the defense of  Europe through the North
Atlantic Treaty Organization.  After China became a communist state in 1949, the
stability of Japan became of paramount importance to Washington, and Japanese
development required access to the markets and raw materials of Southeast Asia.
The outbreak of war in Korea in 1950 served primarily to confirm Washington's
belief that communist aggression posed a great danger to Asia . Subsequent
charges that Truman had "lost" China and had settled for a stalemate in Korea
caused succeeding presidents to fear the domestic political consequences if they
"lost" Vietnam.  This apprehension, an overestimation of American power, and an
underestimation of Vietnamese communist strength locked all administrations from
1950 through the 1960s into a firm anticommunist stand in Vietnam.
Because American policy makers failed to appreciate the amount of effort
that would be required to exert influence on Vietnam's political and social
structure, the course of American policy led to a steady escalation of U.S.
involvement.  President Dwight D. Eisenhower increased the level of aide to the
French but continued to avoid military intervention, even when the French
experienced a devastating defeat at Dien Bien Phu in the spring of 1954.
Following that battle, an international conference at Geneva, Switzerland,
arranged a cease-fire and provided for a North-South partition of Vietnam until
elections could be held.  The United States was not a party to the Geneva
Agreements and began to foster the creation of a Vietnamese regime in South
Vietnam's autocratic president Ngo Dinh Diem, who deposed Bao Dai in October
1955, resisted holding an election on the reunification of Vietnam.  Despite
over $1 billion of U.S. aid between 1955 and 1961, the South Vietnamese economy
languished and internal security deteriorated.  Nation building was failing the
South, and, in 1960, communist cadres created the National Liberation Front
(NLG) or Vietcong as its enemies called it, to challenge the Diem regime.
President John F. Kennedy concurred with his predecessor's domino theory
and also believed that ... more

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