Nature Rambles

Cooperation is the name of nature’s game
by Ian Markham -- March 13th, 2017

For many years, ecology focused on how competition for space and resources determined communities in nature (bottom-up controls). The field was revolutionized with growing understanding of how keystone predators effect ecosystems from the top-down. Arguably a new paradigm shift is underway as we realize the tremendous importance of cooperation.

Mutualisms like these crabs and clown fish living in anemones brought early attention to win-win symbioses.

Yet the closer we look, the more we realize that the very founding principle of complex multi-cellular life may be based on working together. From the chloroplasts that power plants to the mitochondria that animate animals once separate organisms banded together to eek a living out of a challenging world and laid the foundation for plant and animal life that exploded across the planet. Perhaps there is something we can learn there from our ancient ancestors?

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