Adaptation: reaction AND fore-action


Adaptation: reaction AND fore-action
Discussion summary

The discussion "Adaptation: reaction or fore-action" and specifically constructive replies from Charles Welden, Dave McNeely, David Castellanos, Kevin Hovel, Dan Schmutz, and Lisa Lomb showed the need to distinguish between two aspects of this multifaceted concept: adaptation ability and application of this ability. The ability is certainly a product of the past events. It includes not only "hardware" such as the eyes, but also a less appreciated "software" required to analyze visual information, trigger or curtail the production of phenols to repel insects, and so on. On the other hand, the application of these abilities is aimed at the future. Certainly, a deer uses its vision to avoid an impending danger, just as a plant starts producing repelling chemicals to forestall future damage.

By discouraging any association between adaptation and the future, Begon et al. (1986) unduly restricted the meaning of this concept. While the ability has been acquired in the past, it is applied to address present and future problems. Adaptation is valuable not as a relic of the past, but as a tool to deal with the future. This summary can be further summarized as Adaptation: reaction AND fore-action.

Boris Zeide
School of Forestry, University of Arkansas
Monticello, AR 71656. USA
Phone: 501-460-1648. Internet:

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