First thoughts on Evo-Devo

Now that I am finding myself entering into the upper division biology classes I often find that things I was told in 1000 and 2000 level courses are contradicted in later courses. I keep coming across misconceptions that are an artifact of how biology is taught both in coursework and textbooks.

For example I was told thorough the most memorable mnemonic ever made the "ABC's" of animal behavior according to Tinbergen. Under this scheme of thinking there are two divisions of biological thought of what sorts of questions can be asked.

Animal
Behavior
equals=
Causation (What are the physiological causes?)
Development (How does the behavior unfold given the environment?)
Evolution. ( when did the behavior enter a given clade and how is it distributed or modified?)
Function (How does the behavior lead to increases in reproductive success?)

It is said that C and D are proximate which deal with individuals and populations and such.
It was also said that E and F are ultimate causes that deal with populations through time and things like selective pressure. In the lab sections when writing up those lab reports we were asked for sections relating to these four questions(above) in such a way that
the evolution section could only relate to comparing sister taxa and that causation had to just talk about the physiology that say causes a refrigerated nerve to generate an action potential. It was so tightly

Classically there was little attempt to try to explain either C or D in terms of E and F. But I always thought that was a mistake to ignore the middle ground. Now much of this was due to the limitations in technology.

Evo-devo is interesting in that it tries to explain how "evolution is the control of development through ecology". I can see why evo-devo is resented. For the longest time biology was about
naming things, shoving frogs in pickle jars, and just creating volumes upon volumes of facts. From my understanding; that's the point of a synthesis-- to create a new explanatory framework form which things in one field can be applied to others.
I really can't see why there's so much pushback.

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This page contains a single entry by gonza275 published on September 18, 2010 6:09 PM.

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