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Darwinian Demons: Track 1

Is 'natural selection' inimical to bio-diversity? Why is the natural world not dominated by a few 'super' species? And in the future, can the richness of nature be preserved? In this album, Jonathan Silvertown, Professor of Ecology at The Open University, explains how Darwinian theory uses the concept of niche specialisation to account for the diversity of flora and fauna on Earth. If it were not for environmental niches, Darwinian 'demons', might emerge, powerful species whose evolutionary fitness makes them all conquering. However, according to Darwin, the natural world is infinitely complex and inhabited by a multitude of different species, each of which is peculiarly adapted to its local environment. The tracks on this album were produced by The Open University in collaboration with the British Council. They form part of Darwin Now, a global initiative celebrating the life and work of Charles Darwin and the impact his ideas about evolution continue to have on today’s world. © British Council 2009.

By: The iTunes U team (Programme and web teams)

  • Duration 25 mins
  • Updated Monday 9th November 2009
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under Across the Sciences
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Track 1: Darwinian demons

A brief introduction to album.


© The Open University 2009


Tracks in this podcast:

Track   Title Description
1 Darwinian demons    A brief introduction to album. Play now Darwinian demons
2 Ecology and evolution    If evolution is a drama, then ecology provides the theatre and Darwinian Demons are the potential villains of the piece. Darwian Demons are species that try to dominate everything - so what stops them? Play now Ecology and evolution
3 Darwin's niches    Niche specialisation is a key element of Darwin's theory of evolution. Every habitat contains a multitude of smaller local enviroments, to which different species prove to be best adapted. Play now Darwin's niches
4 How demons self destruct    In reality Darwinian demons do not conquer all. They are often at the their most dangerous when taken out of their home environments. Play now How demons self destruct