Chapter III - Struggle for existence
p61) I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term of Natural Selection, in order to mark its relation to man's power of selection.
It seems that even the name emphasizes (hu)man's power. Was this something Darwin was thinking about when he came up with the name for his idea? Not that humans had any power in natural selection of course, but that people would associate the power of 'nature' with the power already held by humankind?
p62) We behold the face of nature bright with gladness... :)
p63) There are different kinds/gradients of 'struggle'.
p66) ...the average number of any animal or plant depends only indirectly on the number of its eggs or seeds.
Yes, I understand that he is discussing k- verses r- selected organisms but I think this is quite a generalized statement and a lot of other factors determine the average number of them.
p68) Climate plays an important part in determining the average numbers of a species, and periodical seasons of extreme cold or drought, I believe to be the most effective of all checks.
Will this be a check of humans???
p70) ...that a plant could exist only where the conditions of its life were so favourable that many could exist together, and thus save each other from utter destruction.
This statement stood out for me for some reason. Has this been tested? Is this sort of like the school of fish hypothesis? Can anyone elaborate on this for me?
p73) Food Webs!
Nevertheless so profound is our ignorance, and so high our presumption, that we marvel when we hear of the extinction of an organic being; and as we do not see the cause, we invoke cataclysms to desolate the world, or invent laws on the duration of the forms of life!
"In England, these insects used to be called Humble Bees, and they were the stuff of which legends were made. In The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin related a story that asserted that old maids were the real power behind the British Empire. The reasoning behind this remarkable claim was that the British army lived on beef; to raise beef you must have clover; and clover, particularly red clover, is pollinated only by humble bees. When field mice are abundant, they often break into the nests of humble bees to steal the honey pots, thus killing the bees. Old maids keep cats, and cats kill mice; hence the bee population, the clover crop, and the beef supply all depend on the number of old maids— well, you get the idea. It’s the food chain in action again." B. Meredith
p76) ...but probably in no one case could we precisely say why one species has been victorious over another in the great battle of life.
Any papers on this?