|Scarlet Tanager image credit: Morguefile / AcrylicArtist (Rodney Campbell)|
Survival of the fittest has been a dominating tenet of Darwinian evolution. But a trio of colorful birds provides evidence that Darwin got it wrong when he suggested competition is the fundamental force that shapes nature. How do these birds dispute Darwin? By eating!To finish eating — I mean, reading — click on "Tree-Snacking Tanagers Undermine Darwin".
Three varieties of Trinidad tanagers share bugs on the same trees as they silently undermine natural selection survivalism. Without confrontations over resources, 1) speckled tanagers pick off bugs from tree leaves, 2) bay-headed tanagers prefer to eat bugs from under large branches, and 3) turquoise tanagers snap up bugs from twigs.
Illustrating what ecologists call noncompetitive niche positioning, this tanager trio avoids antagonistic competition. To appreciate how this peaceful prey sharing upsets the presumptions of Charles Darwin, Thomas Huxley, and their modern ilk, it’s helpful to review why Darwin’s ideas were welcomed so fervently by academics who scoffed at Genesis.