ANSELM KRATOCHWIL, ANGELIKA SCHWABE
VOLUME IV / THE LIVING WORLD
discussed in the following sections are essential prerequi-sites for evolutive processes.
Without the sun as an extraterrestrial energy source, lifewould not be possible. The development of higher molecu-larchemicalcompoundsduetophotosynthesis,theprimaryproductionofautotrophicorganisms(producers)—withoutwhich the consumers and decomposers (animals, bacteria,and fungi) could not have evolved—and temperatures fa-vorableforthemetabolismprocessesoflivingorganismsarean essential prerequisite for organismic life. However, theordered variety of different life-forms (biodiversity) withinbiocoenoses and ecosystems, reﬂected by numerous plantand animal species, is also based on a constant energy sup-ply. The thermodynamic laws (basic principles of thermo-dynamics)applybothtoinorganicmatterandtoorganis-mic life. Order (neg entropy) within a system (in this case,a biosystem) is only possible when energy is available (sup-ply offree enthalpy). Without energy supply, the compo-nents of a system (compartments) cannot ensure any trans-fer of matter or information. Such a transfer, however, isnecessary for the functioning of the entire system, which ismaintained by system-inherent characteristics—that is, theinteractions of its compartments. Energy failure, on theother hand, leads to entropy (disorder) and breakdown inthe system.
Organisms and Their Genetic Information
The genetic code (DNA and RNA) of organisms con-tains information regarding the preservation of the species-and organism-speciﬁc life processes and the organizationof the constructive and the energy metabolism. Moreover,it ensures that the organism is able to respond to environ-mentalinﬂuencesandthatthegeneticinformationispassedon to the next generation.
Organisms and Their Structuresand Functions
Organisms have structures: To survive in a speciﬁc abi-otic and biotic environment, they have acquired morpho-logical,physiological,andbiochemicaladaptations,andani-mals have also acquired ethological adaptations. The manyand diverse environments (habitats as well as habitat com-plexes) bring about a diversity of structures. As a rule,structures of organisms (adaptations) are linked to certainfunctions and vice versa.
Mutations are the basis of evolution. A mutation is achange in the genotype, either spontaneous and natural orinduced by certain mutagenes (substances provoking mu-tations, high temperatures, and UV rays). The variation of genetic information within populations and between them(genetic variability) is due to mutations.
Mutation provides a wide variety of possible forms andphenomena; selection then “chooses” from the existing or-ganisms those reaction types which are best suited, for ex-ample, to the prevailing environmental conditions. Thesetypesreproducebest(“highﬁtness”)andthuspassonmanytheir genes and alleles to the next generation.
Thehistoricityofthetaxonomicsystemsisoneofthefun-damentalcharacteristicsofbiology.Biodiversityistheprod-uct of evolution and thus the result of phylogenesis effec-tive over millions of years. Dollo’s law on the irreversibilityof evolution-historical processes implies that a species canonly originate once. Intricate structures lost in the courseof evolution can never be regained in their original formsince combinations of random mutations and directionalselection,asarule,arenotreproducibleandevolutiontakesa linear course. However, there are examples showing, forinstance, that some metabolic pathways which occur in dif-ferentrelatedgroupshaveobviouslybeenacquiredbymoresimple mutation and selection steps (e.g., the Crassulaceaeacid metabolism in plants).In the following section, some basic principles of thebiological evolution are explained. The evolution processmay be considerably accelerated and the degree of coor-dinated adaptations may be especially pronounced whenspecies or species groups exercise a signiﬁcant selectionpressure on each other (coevolution). Some particularlyspectacular phenomena are due to coevolution. The formsof diversity will be described on the different hierarchy lev-els of biological systems (species, biocoenosis, ecosystem,and landscape).................................................
The Evolution Theory
The theory of the phylogenetic development of organ-isms, ﬁrst outlined in Charles Darwin’s epochal work
(1859),ises-sentiallystillvalidtodayandhasbeensubstantiatedbydatafrom nearly all ﬁelds of biology.The theory is based on two central principles: (i) Allorganisms are phylogenetically related to each other, and(ii)evolution is due to undirectional changes in the geneticmaterial (mutation), leading to transformations of shape,function, and mode of life of organisms (species) and to di-rectional selection by the abiotic and biotic environment.Darwin’s selection theory (with regard to phylogenesis
211-A1678 8/2/01 4:54 PM Page 396