Press release issued 10 February 2009
Evolution may be dominated by biotic factors, (sometimes called the ‘Red Queen’ view of evolution, after the Red Queen in Alice through the Looking-Glass), or abiotic factors, as in the Court Jester model, or a mixture of both.
In a review article in the journal Science, Professor Mike Benton from the University of Bristol argues that viewed close up, evolution is all about biotic interactions in ecosystems (the Red Queen model), but when seen from further away, the large patterns of biodiversity are driven by the physical environment (the Court Jester model).
The two models appear to operate predominantly over different geographic and temporal scales: competition, predation, and other biotic factors shape ecosystems locally and over short time spans, but extrinsic factors such as climate, oceanographic, and tectonic events shape larger-scale patterns regionally and globally, and through thousands and millions of years.
The full article can be read on the Science web site.
The paper: The Red Queen and the Court Jester: species diversity and the role of biotic and abiotic factors through time. Michael J. Benton. Science, 6 February 2009: Vol. 323.
The huge diversity of life – some 10 million species or more – is a constant source of wonder.