23 thoughts on “Q&A – The Rules that Govern Life on Earth – with Sean B Carroll

  1. The Serengeti Rules

    (Rules of regulation / How life works / to intervene in ecosystems)

    1). Keystone Species: Some animals are more equal than others. Keystone species regulate community diversity.

    2). Trophic Cascades: Some species have strong indirect effects on others through trophic cascades.

    3). Density: The regulation of some species depends upon their density (ie. numbers and distribution).

    4). Nature is resilient: Given a chance (habitat, protection, time), populations can rebound dramatically.

    In general…

    * Identify the key players (/species, factors, molecules) that regulate a process.

    * Identify the rules that govern the interactions.

    * Replace what is missing or fix broken links.

    A very informative and interesting talk on evolutionary biology by Sean B. Carroll 🙂

  2. All them smart folks and not one asks about the Great Gorilla and other like-chimps etc. Personally, I think a great disease that wipes out MAN so the critters can have the planet BACK~Man is a TERRORIST and scientists are the Leaders providing info for the Rich and poor .=((( I pray the Creator steps in and takes our WILL so we become the great wild beasts~

  3. are there significant economic benefits of the expanded park/tourists , such that they create real alternatives to poaching ?

  4. Relating to the last question about human population increase, production limitations, etc; One movement that is gaining traction that, in my opinion, shows tremendous hope is the healing (using natural methods) of degraded landscapes that were decimated by agricultural practices of the past 10,000 years. Many areas of desertification used to be farmed intensively by humans, without a natural rest and recovery period for the soil and native plant species, resulting in the complete breakdown of the soil biology and the natural symbiotic relationships. These degraded landscapes are beginning to be healed by bringing in less expensive plant material (such as hay) and feeding it on the degraded landscape to (mainly ruminants, like) cattle, sheep, goats, buffalo, etc. The large herbivores provide a vital missing piece of the puzzle by processing the material through their gut, resulting in urine and manure to restart the natural processes of the soil biology. Then dung beetles and earthworms are brought in or allowed to propagate to incorporate the nutrients in the manure into the soil, where microorganisms make it even more available to plant roots, etc. And the cycle is reborn. BUT, the critical step is to remove the move the large herbivores and allow the plants to recover fully, mimicing the cycle that the Wildebeast use to move around the Serengetti. Only returning to grasses, forbs, etc when they are fully recovered and can withstand grazing again. Once the soil is healed, it can be farmed on a less intensive, more sustainable schedule… without man-made inputs such as inorganic fertilizers and pesticides.

  5. "The other challenges of over-harvesting areas, of degrading ecosystems – for example, the removal of predators. Predators have been selectively removed by humans now for centuries, we don't like wolves, we don't like lions, we don't like bears, and sharks are taking a beating in the oceans."

    Are any micro-organisms known to be keystone species? We don't like a lot of them either, but what is life without death? We tend to think of the decimation of our own species as a terrible thing because it's unpleasant and it happens to us, but with the pressure to eradicate all the organisms which cause us grief, are we causing more harm to the Earth by removing the natural process of controlling species which are too successful, thereby preventing the resolution of the very anthropological imbalance which is driving climate change? It seems the consensus is that our apish influence in the world is what created the issue, and yet we remain determined to address the problem with the same arrogant, meddlesome behavior that got us here. Humans are predators grown out of control, gifted by intellect with a might greater than all those which have gone before. Is climate change a problem, or is it nature's solution to the problem? If we cannot view ourselves objectively then what right have we to interfere? "Save the wolves", "save the lions", "save the bears", "save the sharks"… whatever happened to "save the measles"? I don't know if there's an ethical approach to this conflict, all I know is that for all life to prosper, sometimes the kudu must fall.

  6. So much panda breeding is done by men that they have lost their sexual drive and parenting instinct. Most of the animals produced by these panda breeding programs cannot survive in the wild. That's my guess.

  7. On another note, China is developing rice that grows in sea water. We have started focusing on nature conservation as we reduce global conflict. If global warming is some hoax, it is still something that will drive us in a positive direction. We can already see many countries agreeing to cooperate and develop new renewable energy sources, electric cars are eliminating gasoline fumes in our cities and inspiring technological progress. New figureheads such as Elon Musk have emerged and are changing the way we think about our planet, fueling a new generation of progressives. Youtube has greatly matured since its inception to provide incredibly educational content by a wide range of individuals. Social media is uniting the world and soon we'll all be able to speak the same language thanks to translate applications. Things might seem bad, but that's only because we now see more than we've ever before. The only thing I can see impeding this are our fragile economic policies that have shown to collapse societies, but if we can survive them, perhaps through total automation, we can emerge stronger than ever before and even conquer the stars.

  8. I wish he'd actually answered the question about why predators are so small, because I was wondering about that too. But then he never answered it, he just affirmed the observation that they're small.

  9. Climate change will only be combated with restoring our arid lands, we are talking 12 billion acres. This will also allow for humans to keep increasing in number.

  10. Agree, the last question was the best, and yet, the least answered: Dr. Carroll craftily avoided the issue of how to control (aka reduce) overpopulation, and the fact that we are depleting our natural resources, particularly the non-renewable.

  11. it would be cool, if we brought animals like elephants and rhinos and such into USA. After all, before humans came to the americas there were all kinds of big animals.

    I live in Finland and i think its a shame how little wildlife here is. Sure we have lots forests, but almost all of the trees are farmed (Finland is europes biggest producer of wood). Even Estonia has more big (wild) animals than Finland has. And thats despite Estonia having a lot higher population density and the landmass being 7,5 times smaller compared to Finland.

  12. The teen's question starting at 25:28 is key here. It seems we humans are affecting the laws and the rules of organic evolution and things are gonna get worse if we through science and technology don't do something (speeding up space colonization, say) to control our population; look at this problem in real time: http://www.worldometers.info/world-population/ 😀

  13. Excellent question to end on, it gave a perfect note to end on. On the whole this is probably my favourite talk so far.

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