One of the most well-known and scientifically proven Darwin’s claims states that the closer the evolutionary species are to each other, the more intense is the struggle for natural resources between them. As it turned out, this hypothesis is not true in all cases.
One of the most famous Charles Darwin’s hypotheses suggests that the closer the species are to each other, the more they compete for food and other resources, as they occupy the same ecological niche. Until now, most scholars accepted this statement without doubts.
However, when three American researchers during experiments found that Darwin’s theory is not valid for freshwater green algae, their surprise was evident.
“We didn’t expect this. When we got the results, the first thought was: How is this possible? It took long to realize what happened, since till now Darwin’s hypothesis was considered to be the ultimate truth. Is it possible that it is not true in all cases?” said Bradley Cardinale, an associate professor at the University of Michigan.
Biologists have long deciphered the genomes of 60 species of algae most common in North America. This helped quite accurately determine their evolutionary kinship, i.e. which species are the most ancient and genetically unique, and which appeared relatively recently.
In their experiments, the American scientists made closely related species of algae compete for resources: nitrogen, phosphorus and light. Similar experiments were carried out for the algae which were very far apart in the evolutionary development.
If Darwin’s hypothesis was correct, then closely related species of algae would compete among themselves significantly stronger than distant relatives.
However, neither the experiments conducted in the laboratory nor the observation of algae in ponds and lakes were able to confirm the hypothesis of Darwin.
Darwin’s theory is based on the constant competition between a species and the survival of the fittest. However, now the biologists have discovered that about a third of all species of algae develops better in the presence of “competitors”. Instead of slowing down the growth of plants, the addition of other species accelerated it.
Thus, Darwin’s hypothesis about the development of wildlife based on the constant struggle was not true in the case of the species of algae.
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