Testing the “(Neo-)Darwinian” Principles against Reticulate Evolution
Páginas: 352 (article number)
Variation, adaptation, heredity and fitness, constraints and affordances, speciation, and extinction form the building blocks of the (Neo-)Darwinian research program, and several of these have been called “Darwinian principles”. Here, we suggest that caution should be taken in calling these principles Darwinian because of the important role played by reticulate evolutionary mechanisms and processes in also bringing about these phenomena. Reticulate mechanisms and processes include symbiosis, symbiogenesis, lateral gene transfer, infective heredity mediated by genetic and organismal mobility, and hybridization. Because the “Darwinian principles” are brought about by both vertical and reticulate evolutionary mechanisms and processes, they should be understood as foundational for a more pluralistic theory of evolution, one that surpasses the classic scope of the Modern and the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis. Reticulate evolution moreover demonstrates that what conventional (Neo-)Darwinian theories treat as intra-species features of evolution frequently involve reticulate interactions between organisms from very different taxonomic categories. Variation, adaptation, heredity and fitness, constraints and affordances, speciation, and extinction therefore cannot be understood as “traits” or “properties” of genes, organisms, species, or ecosystems because the phenomena are irreducible to specific units and levels of an evolutionary hierarchy. Instead, these general principles of evolution need to be understood as common goods that come about through interactions between different units and levels of evolutionary hierarchies, and they are exherent rather than inherent properties of individuals.