The pursuit of complexity - The utility of biodiversity from an evolutionary perspective

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Living with fewer species: biodiversity from a brand new perspective

Gepubliceerd op
25 september 2012

Are you ready to embrace an entirely new dogma? To question your existing ideas about biodiversity?

Then submerge yourself in the unusual essay The pursuit of complexity – The utility of biodiversity from an evolutionary perspective. The author examines the utility of biodiversity starting at the very basics, and arrives at new answers to long-standing questions. Is it a problem if species go extinct? And is this discussion mainly a moral one, or can it be approached scientifically? The author’s conclusions are an eye-opener for anyone who asks himself elementary life questions, but they can also be directly applied in management and conservation.

Nature finds itself increasingly under pressure. Species are disappearing faster than ever before in human history. Is this a problem? Several popular publicists are arguing that ecosystems can well survive if single species go extinct. Conservationists strongly object, backed by many scientists. However, scientific arguments that confirm the use of biodiversity are still lacking. The essay The pursuit of complexity – The utility of biodiversity from an evolutionary perspective, written by Dutch ecologist Gerard Jagers, provides a new general frame of reference for this discussion.

One of the main questions that Jagers tries to answer is: what is life, actually? This question will have to be answered if one is to fully understand biodiversity, the variety of all life on earth. The pursuit of complexity provides a clear starting point, and also addresses the concepts of utility and evolution. These are still scientifically debated. When we think about evolution, we immediately think about Darwin. But what is evolution exactly? This essay approaches evolution as if it were a recipe, based on actions and ingredients. Playing with those, argues Jagers, results in various different evolutionary theories. He also shows that evolution follows predictable patterns: it is no longer without direction. Therefore, according to Jagers, the next step in evolution can be predicted: technical life forms.

The author gradually arrives at the answers to his main questions: is it a problem if species disappear? Are certain species more valuable than others? Is extinction simply an aspect of biological evolution? What will biodiversity look like in the future?

The pursuit of complexity is an accessible essay that will appeal to anyone who is curious about the utility of biodiversity. It was written for a broad audience, including biologists and conservationists, thinkers and futurists, scientists and students, politicians and policy makers. No prior expert knowledge is required: all relevant concepts are explained in detail.