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Why does my simulation not support the idea that inbreeding is bad?

Why does my simulation not support the idea that inbreeding is bad?


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After reading this post, I wrote some code to simulate inbreeding.

We have a population of $N$ creatures. Each creature has two genes, which come in two forms: recessive (a) and dominant (A). The creatures' initial genomes are random. At each stage, the following happens, in order:

  1. Each creature with the recessive phenotype (aa) dies with probability $p_R$.
  2. Each creature with the dominant phenotype (AA, aA, or Aa) dies with probability $p_D<>
  3. Each creature then decides to have children with probability $q$. Each creature that decides to have children chooses a mate (see below) and has three children with that mate.

I wrote two different kinds of creature, incest-averse and incest-seking. Each time I ran the simulation, the population consisted of either all incest-averse or all invest-seeking creatures.

  1. An incest-averse creature chooses a mate randomly and uniformly from the set of its non-siblings.
  2. An incest-seeking creature chooses a mate randomly and uniformly from the set of its siblings. If it has no siblings, it just randomly picks anybody.

In practice, since each union produces 3 children, the incest-seeking creatures almost never fail to have siblings after a few generations.

What I found was that whichever type of creature I used, the results were the same: the frequency of the aa genotype plummeted to almost zero. I used the parameters $N=100$, $p_R=0.1$ $p_D=0.05$ $q=0.022$.

Presumably my model is in some way too simple. What am I not taking into account?

Source code


ConservationBytes.com

Last year our group published a paper in Journal of Ecology that examined, for the first time, the life history correlates of a species’ likelihood to become invasive or threatened.

The urgency and scale of the global biodiversity crisis requires being able to predict a species’ likelihood of going extinct or becoming invasive. Why? Well, without good predictive tools about a species’ fate, we can’t really prepare for conservation actions (in the case of species more likely to go extinct) or eradication (in the case of vigorous invasive species).

We considered the problem of threat and invasiveness in unison based on analysis of one of the largest-ever databases (8906 species) compiled for a single plant family (Fabaceae = Leguminosae). We chose this family because it is one of the most speciose (i.e., third highest number of species) in the Plant kingdom, its found throughout all continents and terrestrial biomes except Antarctica, its species range in size from dwarf herbs to large tropical trees, and its life history, form and functional diversity makes it one of the most important plant groups for humans in terms of food production, fodder, medicines, timber and other commercial products. Choosing only one family within which to examine cross-species trends also makes the problem of shared evolutionary histories less problematic from the perspective of confounded correlations.

We found that tall, annual, range-restricted species with tree-like growth forms, inhabiting closed-forest and lowland sites are more likely to be threatened. Conversely, climbing and herbaceous species that naturally span multiple floristic kingdoms and habitat types are more likely to become invasive.

Our results support the idea that species’ life history and ecological traits correlate with a fate response to anthropogenic global change. In other words, species do demonstrate particular susceptibility to either fate based on their evolved traits, and that traits generally correlated with invasiveness are also those that correlate with a reduced probability of becoming threatened.

Conservation managers can therefore benefit from these insights by being able to rank certain plant species according to their risk of becoming threatened. When land-use changes are imminent, poorly documented species can essentially be ranked according to those traits that predispose them to respond negatively to habitat modification. Here, species inventories combined with known or expected life history information (e.g., from related species) can identify which species may require particular conservation attention. The same approach can be used to rank introduced plant species for their probability of spreading beyond the point of introduction and threatening native ecosystems, and to prioritise management interventions.

I hope more taxa are examined with such scrutiny so that we can have ready-to-go formulae for predicting a wider array of potential fates.


Why does my simulation not support the idea that inbreeding is bad? - Biology

Planet of Weeds

Reprinted from Natural Acts: A Sidelong View of Science and Nature (2008) by permission of W.W. Norton.

HOPE IS A DUTY from which paleontologists are exempt. Their job is to take the long view, the cold and stony view, of triumphs and catastrophes in the history of life. They study the fossil record, that erratic selection of petrified shells, carapaces, bones, teeth, tree trunks, leaves, pollen, and other biological relics, and from it they attempt to discern the lost secrets of time, the big patterns of stasis and change, the trends of innovation and adaptation and refinement and decline that have blown like sea winds among ancient creatures in ancient ecosystems.

Although life is their subject, death and burial supply all their data. They're the coroners of biology. This gives to paleontologists a certain distance, a hyperopic perspective beyond the reach of anxiety over outcomes of the struggles they chronicle. If hope is the thing with feathers, as Emily Dickinson said, then it's good to remember that feathers don't generally fossilize well. In lieu of hope and despair, paleontologists have a highly developed sense of cyclicity. That's why I recently went to Chicago, with a handful of urgently grim questions, and called on a paleontologist named David Jablonski. I wanted answers unvarnished with obligatory hope.

Jablonski is a big-pattern man, a macroevolutionist, who works fastidiously from the particular to the very broad. He's an expert on the morphology and distribution of marine bivalves and gastropods-or clams and snails, as he calls them when speaking casually. He sifts through the record of these mollusk lineages, preserved in rock and later harvested into museum drawers, to extract ideas about the origin of novelty. His attention roams back through 600 million years of time. His special skill involves framing large, resonant questions that can be answered with small, lithified clamshells. For instance: By what combinations of causal factor and sheer chance have the great evolutionary innovations arisen? How quickly have those innovations taken hold? How long have they abided? He's also interested in extinction, the converse of abidance, the yang to evolution's yin. Why do some species survive for a long time, he wonders, whereas others die out much sooner? And why has the rate of extinction-low throughout most of Earth's history-spiked upward cataclysmically on just a few occasions? How do those cataclysmic episodes, known in the trade as mass extinctions, differ in kind as well as degree from the gradual process of species extinction during the millions of years between? Can what struck in the past strike again?

The concept of mass extinction implies a biological crisis that spanned large parts of the planet and, in a relatively short time, eradicated a sizable number of species from a variety of groups. There's no absolute threshold of magnitude, and dozens of different episodes in geologic history might qualify, but five big ones stand out: Ordovician, Devonian, Permian, Triassic, Cretaceous. The Ordovician extinction, 439 million years ago, entailed the disappearance of roughly 85 percent of marine animal species-and that was before there were any animals on land. The Devonian extinction, 367 million years ago, seems to have been almost as severe. About 245 million years ago came the Permian extinction, the worst ever, claiming 95 percent of all known animal species and therefore almost wiping out the animal kingdom altogether. The Triassic, 208 million years ago, was bad again, though not nearly so bad as the Permian. The most recent was the Cretaceous extinction (sometimes called the K-T event because it defines the boundary between two geologic periods, with K for Cretaceous, never mind why, and T for Tertiary), familiar even to schoolchildren because it ended the age of dinosaurs. Less familiarly, the K-T event also brought extinction of the marine reptiles and the ammonites, as well as major losses of species among fish, mammals, amphibians, sea urchins, and other groups, totaling 76 percent of all species. In between these five episodes occurred some lesser mass extinctions, and throughout the intervening lulls extinction continued, too-but at a much slower pace, known as the background rate, claiming only about one species in any major group every million years. At the background rate, extinction is infrequent enough to be counterbalanced by the evolution of new species. Each of the five major episodes, in contrast, represents a drastic net loss of species diversity, a deep trough of biological impoverishment from which Earth only slowly recovered. How slowly? How long is the time lag between a nadir of impoverishment and a recovery to ecological fullness? That's another of Jablonski's research interests. His rough estimates run to five or ten million years. What drew me to this man's work, and then to his doorstep, were his special competence on mass extinctions and his willingness to discuss the notion that a sixth one is in progress now.

Some people will tell you that we as a species, Homo sapiens, all six billion of us in our collective impact, are destroying the world. Me, I won't tell you that, because "the world" is so vague, whereas what we are or aren't destroying is quite specific. Some people will tell you that we are rampaging suicidally toward a degree of global wreckage that will result in our own extinction. I won't tell you that either. Some people say that the environment will be the paramount political and social concern of the twenty-first century, but what they mean by "the environment" is anyone's guess. Polluted air? Polluted water? Acid rain? Toxic wastes left to burble beneath neighborhood houses and malls? A frayed skein of ozone over Antarctica? Global warming, driven by the greenhouse gases emitted from smokestacks and cars? None of these concerns is of itself the big one, paleontological in scope, though some (notably, climate change) are closely entangled with it. If the world's air is clean for humans to breathe but supports no birds or butterflies, if the world's waters are pure for humans to drink but contains no fish or crustaceans or diatoms, have we solved our environmental problems? Well, I suppose so, at least as environmentalism is commonly construed. That clumsy, confused, and presumptuous formulation "the environment" implies viewing air, water, soil, forests, rivers, swamps, deserts, and oceans as merely a milieu within which something important is set: human life, human history. But what's at issue in fact is not an environment it's a living world.

Here instead is what I'd like to tell you: The consensus among conscientious biologists is that we're headed into another mass extinction, a vale of biological impoverishment commensurate with the big five. Many experts remain hopeful that we can brake that descent, but my own view is that we're likely to go all the way down. I visited David Jablonski to ask what we might see at the bottom.

On a hot summer morning, Jablonski is busy in his office on the second floor of the Hinds Geophysical Laboratory at the University of Chicago. It's a large open room furnished in tall bookshelves, tables piled with books, stacks of paper standing knee-high off the floor. The walls are mostly bare, aside from a chart of the geologic time scale, a clipped cartoon of dancing tyrannosaurs in red sneakers, and a poster from a Rodin exhibition, quietly appropriate to the overall theme of eloquent stone. Jablonski is a lean 45-year-old man with a dark full beard. Educated at Columbia and Yale, he came to Chicago in 1985 and has helped make its paleontology program perhaps the country's best. Although in not many hours he'll be leaving on a trip to Alaska, he has been cordial about agreeing to this chat. Stepping carefully, we move among the piled journals, reprints, and photocopies. Every pile represents a different research question, he tells me. "I juggle a lot of these things all at once because they feed into one another." That's exactly why I've come: for a little rigorous intellectual synergy.

Let's talk about mass extinctions, I say. When did someone first realize that the concept might apply to current events, not just to the Permian or the Cretaceous?

He begins sorting back through memory. In the early and middle 1980s, he recalls, there occurred a handful of symposiums and lecture series on the subject of extinction, for which the rosters included both paleontologists and what he whimsically calls "neontologists," meaning biologists who study creatures that are still alive. An event was held at the Field Museum here in Chicago, with support from the National Science Foundation, that attracted four hundred scientists. Another, at which Jablonski himself spoke, took place at the New England Aquarium, in Boston. "The chronology is a little hazy for me," he says. "But one that I found most impressive was the Elliott meeting, the one in Flagstaff." David K. Elliott, of the geology department at Northern Arizona University, had pulled that gathering together in August of 1983 and later edited the invited papers into a volume titled Dynamics of Extinction. The headliner among the neontologists was Paul Ehrlich, eminent as an ecologist, widely famed for his best-selling jeremiad The Population Bomb, and co-author of a 1981 book on human-caused extinctions. Ehrlich spoke mainly about birds, mammals, and butterflies, sketching the severity of the larger problem and offering suggestions about what could be done. For the paleontological perspective, it was Jablonski again and a few others, including John Sepkoski and David Raup, later to be his colleagues at the University of Chicago. Sepkoski and Raup, while sorting through a huge body of data on the life spans of fossil groups, had lately noticed a startlingly regular pattern of recurrence-at about 26-million-year intervals-in the timing of large and medium-sized mass extinctions. The Sepkoski-Raup paper at Flagstaff, building on their own earlier work as well as the hot new idea that an asteroid impact had killed off the dinosaurs, suggested a dramatic hypothesis for explaining those recurrent mass extinctions: that maybe an invisible twin star (an "undetected companion," they called it) orbits mutually around our sun, returning every 26 million years and bringing with it each time, by gravitational pull, a murderous rain of interplanetary debris that devastates ecosystems and wipes out many species. Sepkoski's brief presentation of the idea was provocative enough to draw attention not just in Science and Science News but also the Los Angeles Times. Some people labeled that invisible companion "Nemesis," after the Greek goddess of vengeance, and others casually called it the Death Star. Meanwhile, another of the presentations at Flagstaff was attracting no such fuss, but that's the one Jablonski remembers now.

It was a talk by Daniel Simberloff, an ecologist then at Florida State University, highly respected for his incisive mind but notoriously reluctant to draw sweeping conclusions from limited data. Simberloff's remarks carried the title, "Are We on the Verge of a Mass Extinction in Tropical Rain Forests?" His answer, painstakingly reached, was yes.

"That's a really important paper, and a scary one," Jablonski says.

He vividly recalls the Flagstaff situation. "It wasn't a media event. It was scientists talking to scientists, being very up-front about what the uncertainties were and what the problems were." The problems were forest destruction, forest fragmentation, the loss of species that follows from those factors, and the cascading additional extinctions that come when ecosystems unravel. The uncertainties were considerable too, since there is no positive evidence left behind, no corpus delicti, when a species of rare bird or unknown beetle disappears as a consequence of the incineration of its habitat. Proving a negative fact is always difficult, and extinction is inherently a negative fact: Such-and-such no longer exists. Some biologists had begun warning of an extinction crisis that would be epochal in scale, their concern based on inference from the destruction of habitats that harbor vast numbers of highly localized species-in particular, tropical forests-and a few of those biologists had vivified their warnings with numerical estimates. Simberloff set himself to a skeptic's question: Is the situation really so dire? From his own cautious inferences and extrapolations, he reported that, "even with an increase in the rate of destruction, there is not likely to be a mass extinction by the end of the century comparable to those of the geological past." He meant the twentieth century, of course. But was he saying that the alarums were illusory? Simberloff's reputation was such that no one could doubt he would make any unfashionable, spoilsport pronouncement to which the data, or lack of it, led him. Instead he added that, in the next century, "if there are no major changes in the way forests are treated, things may get much worse." His calculation suggested that, if tropical forests in the Americas were reduced to what's presently set aside as parks and reserves, 66 percent of all the native plant species would disappear by the end of the twenty-first century, and 69 percent of all Amazon birds. Yes, it would be a catastrophe on the same scale as every mass extinction except the Permian, Simberloff concluded.

"For me," David Jablonski says now, "that was a turning point."

But it's not the starting point I asked about. By the time of the Flagstaff meeting, I remind him, the idea of convening biologists together with paleontologists for a discussion of mass extinction was almost obvious, as reflected by the fact that two such events occurred that year. When was the idea less obvious? When was it just a fresh, counterintuitive notion? Jablonski obliges me by pushing his memory a little harder-back, as it turns out, to his own work during graduate school.

In the 1960s and early 1970s, concern about human-caused extinctions was neither widespread nor ecologically astute. Some writers warned about "vanishing wildlife" and "endangered species," but generally the warnings were framed around individual species with popular appeal, such as the whooping crane, the tiger, the blue whale, the peregrine falcon. Back in 1958, the pioneering British ecologist Charles Elton had published a farsighted book about biological dislocations, The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants Rachel Carson in 1962, withSilent Spring, had alerted people to the widespread, pernicious effects of pesticides such as DDT and David Ehrenfeld's Biological Conservation appeared in 1970. But those three were untypical in their grasp of larger contexts. During the 1970s a new form of concern broke forth-call it wholesale concern-from the awareness that unnumbered millions of narrowly endemic (that is, unique and localized) species inhabit the tropical forests and that those forests were quickly being cut. The World Wildlife Fund and the Smithsonian Institution sponsored a symposium in 1974 on the subject of biological impoverishment the chief scientist at WWF and the main organizer of that event was a young ecologist named Thomas E. Lovejoy, not long removed from his own doctoral work on Amazon birds. Another early voice belonged to Norman Myers, a Berkeley-trained biologist based in Nairobi. In 1976 Myers published a paper in Science recommending greater attention to the economic pressures that drive habitat destruction and the consequent loss of species in passing, he also compared current extinctions with the rate during what he loosely called, "the 'great dying' of the dinosaurs." David Jablonski, then a graduate student struggling to do his dissertation and pay his bills, read Myers's paper and tucked a copy into his files. The comparison to the Cretaceous extinction, an event about which he was knowledgeable, didn't seem to him incongruous. Soon afterward, in early 1978, Jablonski was running out of cash and so "finagled the opportunity" to offer a seminar course, a special elective for undergraduates, through one of the Yale residential colleges. "I decided to teach it on extinction," he says.

Now suddenly energized by this recollection, Jablonski dodges among his paper-pile stalagmites to a cabinet and returns with a twenty-year-old file. He flips through it, mesmerized like an old athlete over a scrapbook from his improbable youth. The yellowing sheets tell us that his course ran in autumn 1978 as college seminar 130a, "Crises in the Evolution of Life." Eleven weeks of class were devoted to paleontological fundamentals such as deep time, uniformitarian change, the tempo and mode of evolution, Darwin and Lamarck, Cuvier and Lyell, and then to signal episodes such as the Permian extinction, the Devonian extinction, the K-T event. Week twelve would connect paleontology with neontology. On that Tuesday evening, according to a typed outline saved in the old file, students would consider the past and future impact of Homo sapiens, concerning notably: "The diminution of global biotic diversity, and how (or if) it should be maintained. Climatic effects of human activities. Are we on the brink of a mass extinction? The past as the key to the present." It was the first class that David Jablonski ever taught.

Norman Myers's early role in this matter was important from several angles. "He was the guy who really started the quantification of extinction," Jablonski recalls. "Norman was a pretty lonely guy for a long time, on that." In 1979 Myers published The Sinking Ark, which explained the extinction problem for a popular audience, and in 1980 he produced a report to the National Academy of Sciences, drily titled Conversion of Tropical Moist Forests but full of eloquent data tracing the worldwide destruction of rainforest ecosystems. In the former book, he offered some rough numbers and offhanded projections. Between the years 1600 and 1900, by his count, humanity had caused the extinction of about 75 known species, almost all of them mammals and birds. Between 1900 and 1979, humans had extinguished another 75 known species. Repeating what he had said in Science, Myers noted that this provisional tally-totaling 150 known species, all lost in less than four centuries-was itself well above the rate of known losses during the Cretaceous extinction. But more worrisome was the inferable rate of unrecorded extinctions, recent and now impending, among tropical plants and animals still unidentified by science. He guessed that 25,000 plant species presently stood jeopardized, and maybe hundreds of thousands of insects. "By the late 1980s we could be facing a situation where one species becomes extinct each hour. By the time human communities establish ecologically sound life-styles, the fallout of species could total several million." Rereading those sentences now, I'm struck by the reckless optimism of his assumption that human communities eventually will establish "ecologically sound life-styles." But back in 1981, when I first encountered Myers's book, his predictions seemed shocking and gloomy.

A year after The Sinking Ark appeared, Tom Lovejoy of WWF offered his own cautionary guesstimate in a section of the Global 2000 report to outgoing President Jimmy Carter. Based on current projections of forest loss and a plausible relationship between forest area and endemism, Lovejoy suggested that 15 to 20 percent of all species-amounting to millions-might be lost by the end of the twentieth century. In the course of his discussion, Lovejoy also coined a new phrase, "biological diversity," which seems obvious in retrospect but hadn't yet been in use for denoting the aggregate of what was at stake. The portmanteau version, "biodiversity," would be buckled together a few years later. Among field biologists a sense of focused concern was taking hold.

These early tries at quantification proved consequential for two reasons. First, Myers and Lovejoy helped galvanize public concern over the seemingly abstract matter of how many species may be lost as humanity claims an ever larger share of Earth's landscape and resources. Second, the Myers and Lovejoy warnings became targets for a handful of critics, who used the inexactitude of those numbers to cast doubt on the reality of the whole problem. Most conspicuous among the naysayers was Julian Simon, an economist at the University of Maryland, who argued bullishly that human population growth and human resourcefulness would solve all problems worth solving, of which a decline in diversity of tropical insects wasn't one.

In a 1986 issue of New Scientist , Simon rebutted Norman Myers, based on his own construal of select data, to the effect that there was "no obvious recent downward trend in world forests-no obvious 'losses' at all, and certainly no 'near catastrophic' loss." He later co-authored an op-ed piece in The New York Times under the headline "Facts, Not Species, Are Periled." Again he went after Myers, asserting a "complete absence of evidence for the claim that the extinction of species is going up rapidly-or even going up at all." Simon's worst disservice to logic in that statement and others was the denial that inferential evidence of wholesale extinction counts for anything. Of inferential evidence there was an abundance-for example, from the Centinela Ridge in a cloud-forest zone of western Ecuador, where in 1978 the botanist Alwyn Gentry and a colleague found 38 species of narrowly endemic plants, including several with mysterious black leaves. Before Gentry could get back, Centinela Ridge had been completely deforested, the native plants replaced by cacao and other crops. As for inferential evidence generally, we might do well to remember what it contributes to our conviction that approximately 105,000 Japanese civilians died in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The city's population fell abruptly on August 6, 1945, but there was no one-by-one identification of 105,000 bodies.

Nowadays a few younger writers have taken Simon's line, pooh-poohing the concern over extinction. As for Simon himself, who died in 1998, perhaps the truest sentence he left behind was, "We must also try to get more reliable information about the number of species that might be lost with various changes in the forests." No one could argue.

BUT IT ISN'T EASY to get such information. Field biologists tend to avoid investing their precious research time in doomed tracts of forest. Beyond that, our culture offers little institutional support for the study of narrowly endemic species in order to register their existence before their habitats are destroyed. Despite these obstacles, recent efforts to quantify rates of extinction have supplanted the old warnings. These new estimates use satellite imaging and improved on-the-ground data about deforestation, records of the many human-caused extinctions on islands, and a branch of ecological theory called island biogeography, which connects documented island cases with the mainland problem of forest fragmentation. These efforts differ in particulars, reflecting how much uncertainty is still involved, but their varied tones form a chorus of consensus. I'll mention three of the most credible.

W. V. Reid, of the World Resources Institute, in 1992 gathered numbers on the average annual deforestation in each of 63 tropical countries during the 1980s, and from them he charted three different scenarios (low, middle, high) of presumable forest loss by the year 2040. He chose a standard mathematical model of the relationship between decreasing habitat area and decreasing species diversity, made conservative assumptions about the crucial constant, and ran his various deforestation estimates through the model. Reid's calculations suggest that by the year 2040, between 17 and 35 percent of tropical forest species will be extinct or doomed to extinction. Either at the high or the low end of this range, it would amount to a bad loss, though not as bad as the K-T event. Then again, 2040 won't mark the end of human pressures on biological diversity or landscape.

Robert M. May, an ecologist at Oxford, co-authored a similar effort in 1995. May and his colleagues noted the five causal factors that account for most extinctions: habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, overkill, invasive species, and secondary effects cascading through an ecosystem from other extinctions. Each of those five is more intricate than it sounds. For instance, habitat fragmentation dooms species by consigning them to small parcels of habitat left insularized in an ocean of human impact, and by then subjecting them to the same jeopardies (small population size, acted upon by environmental fluctuation, catastrophe, inbreeding, bad luck, and cascading effects) that make island species especially vulnerable to extinction. May's team concluded that most extant bird and mammal species can expect average life spans of between 200 and 400 years. That's equivalent to saying that about a third of one percent will go extinct each year until some unimaginable end point is reached. "Much of the diversity we inherited," May and his co-authors wrote, "will be gone before humanity sorts itself out."

The most recent estimate comes from Stuart L. Pimm and Thomas M. Brooks, ecologists at the University of Tennessee. Using a combination of published data on bird species lost from forest fragments and field data they gathered themselves, Pimm and Brooks concluded that 50 percent of the world's forest bird species will be doomed to extinction by deforestation occurring over the next half century. And birds won't be the sole victims. "How many species will be lost if current trends continue?" the two scientists asked. "Somewhere between one third and two thirds of all species-easily making this event as large as the previous five mass extinctions the planet has experienced."

Jablonski, who started down this line of thought in 1978, offers me a reminder about the conceptual machinery behind such estimates. "All mathematical models," he says cheerily, "are wrong. They are approximations. And the question is: Are they usefully wrong, or are they meaninglessly wrong?" Models projecting present and future species loss are useful, he suggests, if they help people realize that Homo sapiens is perturbing Earth's biosphere to a degree it hasn't often been perturbed before. In other words, that this is a drastic experiment in biological drawdown we're engaged in, not a continuation of routine.

Behind the projections of species loss lurk a number of critical but hard-to-plot variables, among which two are especially weighty: continuing landscape conversion and the growth curve of human population.

Landscape conversion can mean many things: draining wetlands to build roads and airports, turning tallgrass prairies under the plow, fencing savanna and overgrazing it with domestic stock, cutting second-growth forest in Vermont and consigning the land to ski resorts or vacation suburbs, slash-and-burn clearing of Madagascar's rainforest to grow rice on wet hillsides, industrial logging in Borneo to meet Japanese plywood demands. The ecologist John Terborgh and a colleague, Carel P. van Schaik, have described a four-stage process of landscape conversion that they call the land-use cascade. The successive stages are: 1) wildlands, encompassing native floral and faunal communities altered little or not at all by human impact 2) extensively used areas, such as natural grasslands lightly grazed, savanna kept open for prey animals by infrequent human-set fires, or forests sparsely worked by slash-and-burn farmers at low density 3) intensively used areas, meaning crop fields, plantations, village commons, travel corridors, urban and industrial zones and finally 4) degraded land, formerly useful but now abused beyond value to anybody. Madagascar, again, would be a good place to see all four stages, especially the terminal one. Along a thin road that leads inland from a town called Mahajanga, on the west coast, you can gaze out over a vista of degraded land-chalky red hills and gullies, bare of forest, burned too often by graziers wanting a short-term burst of pasturage, sparsely covered in dry grass and scrubby fan palms, eroded starkly, draining red mud into the Betsiboka River, supporting almost no human presence. Another showcase of degraded land-attributable to fuelwood gathering, overgrazing, population density, and decades of apartheid-is the Ciskei homeland in South Africa. Or you might look at over-irrigated crop fields left ruinously salinized in the Central Valley of California.

Among all forms of landscape conversion, pushing tropical forest from the wildlands category to the intensively used category has the greatest impact on biological diversity. You can see it in western India, where a spectacular deciduous ecosystem known as the Gir forest (home to the last surviving population of the Asiatic lion, Panthera leo persica) is yielding along its ragged edges to new mango orchards, peanut fields, and lime quarries for cement. You can see it in the central Amazon, where big tracts of rainforest have been felled and burned, in a largely futile attempt (encouraged by misguided government incentives, now revoked) to pasture cattle on sun-hardened clay. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the rate of deforestation in tropical countries has increased (contrary to Julian Simon's claim) since the 1970s, when Norman Myers made his estimates. During the 1980s, as the FAO reported in 1993, that rate reached 15.4 hectares (a hectare being the metric equivalent of 2.5 acres) annually. South America was losing 6.2 million hectares of forest a year. Southeast Asia was losing less in sheer area but more proportionally: 1.6 percent of its forests yearly. In terms of cumulative loss, as reported by other observers, the Atlantic coast forest of Brazil is at least 95 percent gone. The Philippines, once nearly covered with rainforest, has lost 92 percent. Costa Rica has continued to lose forest, despite that country's famous concern for its biological resources. The richest old-growth lowland forests in West Africa, India, the Greater Antilles, Madagascar, and elsewhere have been reduced to less than a tenth of their original areas. By the middle of the twenty-first century, if those trends continue, tropical forest will exist virtually nowhere outside of protected areas-that is, national parks, wildlife refuges, and other official reserves.

How many protected areas will there be? The present worldwide total is about 9,800, encompassing 6.3 percent of the planet's land area. Will those parks and reserves retain their full biological diversity? No. Species with large territorial needs will be unable to maintain viable population levels within small reserves, and as those species die away their absence will affect others. The disappearance of big predators, for instance, can release limits on medium-sized predators and scavengers, whose overabundance can drive still other species (such as ground-nesting birds) to extinction. This has already happened in some habitat fragments, such as Panama's Barro Colorado Island, and been well documented in the literature of island biogeography. The lesson of fragmented habitats is Yeatsian: Things fall apart.

Human population growth will make a bad situation worse by putting ever more pressure on all available land.

Population growth rates have declined in many countries within the past several decades, it's true. But world population is still increasing, and even if average fertility suddenly, magically dropped to 2.0 children per female, population would continue to increase (on the momentum of birth rate exceeding death rate among a generally younger and healthier populace) for some time. The annual increase is now 80 million people, with most of that increment coming in less-developed countries. The latest long-range projections from the Population Division of the United Nations, released earlier this year, are slightly down from previous long-term projections in 1992 but still point toward a problematic future. According to the U.N.'s middle estimate (and most probable? that's hard to know) among seven fertility scenarios, human population will rise from the present 5.9 billion to 9.4 billion by the year 2050, then to 10.8 billion by 2150, before leveling off there at the end of the twenty-second century. If it happens that way, about 9.7 billion people will inhabit the countries included within Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia. The total population of those countries-most of which are in the low latitudes, many of which are less developed, and which together encompass a large portion of Earth's remaining tropical forest-will be more than twice what it is today. Those 9.7 billion people, crowded together in hot places, forming the ocean within which tropical nature reserves are insularized, will constitute 90 percent of humanity. Anyone interested in the future of biological diversity needs to think about the pressures these people will face, and the pressures they will exert in return.

We also need to remember that the impact of Homo sapiens on the biosphere can't be measured simply in population figures. As the population expert Paul Harrison pointed out in his book The Third Revolution , that impact is a product of three variables: population size, consumption level, and technology. Although population growth is highest in less-developed countries, consumption levels are generally far higher in the developed world (for instance, the average American consumes about ten times as much energy as the average Chilean, and about a hundred times as much as the average Angolan), and also higher among the affluent minority in any country than among the rural poor. High consumption exacerbates the impact of a given population, whereas technological developments may either exacerbate it further (think of the automobile, the air conditioner, the chainsaw) or mitigate it (as when a technological innovation improves efficiency for an established function). All three variables play a role in every case, but a directional change in one form of human impact-upon air pollution from fossil-fuel burning, say, or fish harvest from the seas-can be mainly attributable to a change in one variable, with only minor influence from the other two. Sulfur-dioxide emissions from developed countries fell dramatically during the 1970s and ྌs, due to technological improvements in papermaking and other industrial processes those emissions would have fallen still farther if not for increased population (accounting for 25 percent of the upward vector) and increased consumption (accounting for 75 percent). Deforestation, in contrast, is a directional change that has been mostly attributable to population growth.

According to Harrison's calculations, population growth accounted for 79 percent of the deforestation in less-developed countries between 1973 and 1988. Some experts would argue with those calculations, no doubt, and insist on redirecting our concern toward the role that distant consumers, wood-products buyers among slow-growing but affluent populations of the developed nations, play in driving the destruction of Borneo's dipterocarp forests or the hardwoods of West Africa. Still, Harrison's figures point toward an undeniable reality: More total people will need more total land. By his estimate, the minimum land necessary for food growing and other human needs (such as water supply and waste dumping) amounts to one fifth of a hectare per person. Given the U.N.'s projected increase of 4.9 billion souls before the human population finally levels off, that comes to another billion hectares of human-claimed landscape, a billion hectares less forest-even without allowing for any further deforestation by the current human population, or for any further loss of agricultural land to degradation. A billion hectares-in other words, 10 million square kilometers-is, by a conservative estimate, well more than half the remaining forest area in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. This raises the vision of a very exigent human population pressing snugly around whatever patches of natural landscape remain.

Add to that vision the extra, incendiary aggravation of poverty. According to a recent World Bank estimate, about 30 percent of the total population of less-developed countries lives in poverty. Alan Durning, in his 1992 book How Much Is Enough? The Consumer Society and the Fate of the Earth, puts it in a broader perspective when he says that the world's human population is divided among three "ecological classes": the consumers, the middle-income, and the poor. His consumer class includes those 1.1 billion fortunate people whose annual income per family member is more than $7,500. At the other extreme, the world's poor also number about 1.1 billion people-all from households with less than $700 annually per family member. "They are mostly rural Africans, Indians, and other South Asians," Durning writes. "They eat almost exclusively grains, root crops, beans, and other legumes, and they drink mostly unclean water. They live in huts and shanties, they travel by foot, and most of their possessions are constructed of stone, wood, and other substances available from the local environment." He calls them the "absolute poor." It's only reasonable to assume that another billion people will be added to that class, mostly in what are now the less-developed countries, before population growth stabilizes. How will those additional billion, deprived of education and other advantages, interact with the tropical landscape? Not likely by entering information-intensive jobs in the service sector of the new global economy. Julian Simon argued that human ingenuity-and by extension, human population itself-is "the ultimate resource" for solving Earth's problems, transcending Earth's limits, and turning scarcity into abundance. But if all the bright ideas generated by a human population of 5.9 billion haven't yet relieved the desperate needfulness of the 1.1 billion absolute poor, why should we expect that human ingenuity will do any better for roughly 2 billion poor in the future?

Other writers besides Durning have warned about this deepening class rift. Tom Athanasiou, in Divided Planet: The Ecology of Rich and Poor , sees population growth only exacerbating the division, and notes that governments often promote destructive schemes of transmigration and rainforest colonization as safety valves for the pressures of land hunger and discontent. A young Canadian policy analyst named Thomas Homer-Dixon, author of several calm-voiced but frightening articles on the linkage between what he terms "environmental scarcity" and global sociopolitical instability, reports that the amount of cropland available per person is falling in the less-developed countries because of population growth and because millions of hectares "are being lost each year to a combination of problems, including encroachment by cities, erosion, depletion of nutrients, acidification, compacting and salinization and waterlogging from overirrigation." In the cropland pinch and other forms of environmental scarcity, Homer-Dixon foresees potential for "a widening gap" of two sorts-between demands on the state and its ability to deliver, and more basically between rich and poor. In conversation with the journalist Robert D. Kaplan, as quoted in Kaplan's book The Ends of the Earth, Homer-Dixon said it more vividly: "Think of a stretch limo in the potholed streets of New York City, where homeless beggars live. Inside the limo are the air-conditioned post-industrial regions of North America, Europe, the emerging Pacific Rim, and a few other isolated places, with their trade summitry and computer information highways. Outside is the rest of mankind, going in a completely different direction." That direction, necessarily, will be toward ever more desperate exploitation of landscape. Kaplan himself commented: "We are entering a bifurcated world."

H. G. Wells foretold that bifurcation a century ago in his novel The Time Machine . Wells's time traveler, bouncing forward from Victorian London to the year 802,701 A.D., found a divided planet too, upon which the human race had split into two very different forms: the groveling, dangerous Morlocks who lived underground, and the epicene Eloi, who enjoyed lives of languid comfort on the surface. The only quaint thing about Wells's futurology, from where we sit now, is that he imagined it would be necessary to travel so far.

As for Homer-Dixon's vehicle: When you think of that stretch limo on those potholed urban streets, don't assume there will be room inside for tropical forests. Even Noah's ark only managed to rescue paired animals, not large parcels of habitat. The jeopardy of the ecological fragments that we presently cherish as parks, refuges, and reserves is already severe, due to both internal and external forces: internal, because insularity itself leads to ecological unraveling and external, because those areas are still under siege by needy and covetous people. Projected forward into a future of 10.8 billion humans, of which perhaps 2 billion are starving at the periphery of those areas, while another 2 billion are living in a fool's paradise maintained by unremitting exploitation of whatever resources remain, that jeopardy increases to the point of impossibility. In addition, any form of climate change in the mid-term future, whether caused by greenhouse gases or by the natural flip-flop of climatic forces, is liable to change habitat conditions within a given protected area beyond the tolerance range for many species. If such creatures can't migrate beyond the park or reserve boundaries in order to chase their habitat needs, they may be "protected" from guns and chainsaws within their little island, but they'll still die.

We shouldn't take comfort in assuming that at least Yellowstone National Park will still harbor grizzly bears in the year 2150, that at least Royal Chitwan in Nepal will still harbor tigers, that at least Serengeti in Tanzania and Gir in India will still harbor lions. Those predator populations, and other species down the cascade, are likely to disappear. "Wildness" will be a word applicable only to urban turmoil. Lions, tigers, and bears will exist in zoos, period. Nature won't come to an end, but it will look very different.

The most obvious differences will be those I've already mentioned: tropical forests and other terrestrial ecosystems will be dramatically reduced in area, and the fragmented remnants will stand tiny and isolated. Because of those two factors, plus the cascading secondary effects, plus an additional dire factor I'll mention in a moment, much of Earth's biological diversity will be gone. How much? That's impossible to predict confidently, but the careful guesses of Robert May, Stuart Pimm, and other biologists suggest losses reaching half to two thirds of all species. In the oceans, deepwater fish and shellfish populations will be drastically depleted by overharvesting, if not to the point of extinction then at least enough to cause more cascading consequences. Coral reefs and other shallow-water ecosystems will be badly stressed, if not devastated, by erosion and chemical runoff from the land. The additional dire factor is invasive species, fifth of the five factors contributing to our current experiment in mass extinction.

THAT FACTOR, EVEN MORE THAN habitat destruction and fragmentation, is a symptom of modernity. Maybe you haven't heard much about invasive species, but in coming years you will. Daniel Simberloff, the same ecologist who gave that sobering paper that Jablonski remembers from 1983, takes it so seriously that he recently committed himself to founding an institute on invasive biology at the University of Tennessee, and Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt sounded the alarm last April in a speech to a weed-management symposium in Denver. The spectacle of a cabinet secretary denouncing an alien plant called purple loosestrife struck some observers as droll, but it wasn't as silly as it seemed. Forty years ago, Charles Elton warned in The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants that "we are living in a period of the world's history when the mingling of thousands of kinds of organisms from different parts of the world is setting up terrific dislocations in nature." Elton's word "dislocations" was nicely chosen to ring with a double meaning: Species are being moved from one location to another, and as a result ecosystems are being thrown into disorder.

The problem dates back to when people began using ingenious new modes of conveyance (the horse, the camel, the canoe) to travel quickly across mountains, deserts, and oceans, bringing with them rats, lice, disease microbes, burrs, dogs, pigs, goats, cats, cows, and other forms of parasitic, commensal, or domesticated creature. One immediate result of those travels was a wave of island-bird extinctions, claiming more than a thousand species, that followed oceangoing canoes across the Pacific and elsewhere. Having evolved in insular ecosystems free of predators, many of those species were flightless, unequipped to defend themselves or their eggs against ravenous mammals. Raphus cucullatus , a giant cousin of the pigeon lineage, endemic to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and better known as the dodo, was only the most easily caricatured representative of this much larger pattern. Dutch sailors killed and ate dodos during the seventeenth century, but probably what guaranteed the extinction of Raphus cucullatus is that the European ships put ashore rats, pigs, and Macaca fascicularis, an opportunistic species of Asian monkey. Although commonly known as the crab-eating macaque, M. fascicularis will eat almost anything. The monkeys are still pestilential on Mauritius, hungry and daring and always ready to grab what they can, including raw eggs. But the dodo hasn't been seen since 1662.

The European age of discovery and conquest was also the great age of biogeography-that is, the study of what creatures live where, a branch of biology practiced by attentive travelers such as Carl Linnaeus, Alexander von Humboldt, Charles Darwin, and Alfred Russel Wallace. Darwin and Wallace even made biogeography the basis of their discovery that species, rather than being created and plopped onto Earth by divine magic, evolve in particular locales by the process of natural selection. Ironically, the same trend of far-flung human travel that gave biogeographers their data also began to muddle and nullify those data, by transplanting the most ready and roguish species to new places and thereby delivering misery unto death for many other species. Rats and cats went everywhere, causing havoc in what for millions of years had been sheltered, less competitive ecosystems. The Asiatic chestnut blight and the European starling came to America the American muskrat and the Chinese mitten crab got to Europe. Sometimes these human-mediated transfers were unintentional, sometimes merely shortsighted. Nostalgic sportsmen in New Zealand imported British red deer European brown trout and Coastal rainbows were planted in disregard of the native cutthroat trout of Rocky Mountain rivers. Prickly-pear cactus, rabbits, and cane toads were inadvisedly welcomed to Australia. Goats went wild in the Galápagos. The bacteria that cause bubonic plague journeyed from China to Europe by way of fleas, rats, Mongolian horsemen, and sailing ships, and eventually traveled also to California. The Atlantic sea lamprey found its own way up into Lake Erie, but only after the Welland Canal gave it a bypass around Niagara Falls. Unintentional or otherwise, all these transfers had unforeseen consequences, which in many cases included the extinction of less competitive, less opportunistic native species. The rosy wolfsnail, a small creature introduced onto Oahu for the purpose of controlling a larger and more obviously noxious species of snail, which was itself invasive, proved to be medicine worse than the disease it became a fearsome predator upon native snails, of which twenty species are now gone. The Nile perch, a big predatory fish introduced into Lake Victoria in 1962 because it promised good eating, seems to have exterminated at least 80 species of smaller cichlid fishes that were native to the lake's Mwanza Gulf.

The problem is vastly amplified by modern shipping and air transport, which are quick and capacious enough to allow many more kinds of organism to get themselves transplanted into zones of habitat they never could have reached on their own. The brown tree snake, having hitchhiked aboard military planes from the New Guinea region near the end of World War II, has eaten most of the native forest birds of Guam. The same virus that causes monkeypox among Congolese villagers traveled to Wisconsin by way of certain African rodents, which were imported for the exotic wildlife trade the virus then crossed into captive American prairie dogs and, from them, into people who thought prairie dogs would make nifty pets. SARS rode from Hong Kong to Toronto as the respiratory distress of one airline passenger. Ebola will next appear who knows where. Apart from the frightening epidemiological possibilities, agricultural damages are the most conspicuous form of impact. One study, by the congressional Office of Technology Assessment, reports that in the United States 4,500 nonnative species have established free-living populations, of which about 15 percent cause severe harm looking at just 79 of those species, the OTA documented $97 billion in damages. The lost value in Hawaiian snail species or cichlid diversity is harder to measure. But another report, from the U.N. Environmental Program, declares that almost 20 percent of the world's endangered vertebrates suffer from pressures (competition, predation, habitat transformation) created by exotic interlopers. Michael Soulé, a biologist much respected for his work on landscape conversion and extinction, has said that invasive species may soon surpass habitat loss and fragmentation as the major cause of "ecological disintegration." Having exterminated Guam's avifauna, the Guam tree snake has lately been spotted in Hawaii.

Is there a larger pattern to these invasions? What do fire ants, zebra mussels, Asian gypsy moths, tamarisk trees, maleleuca trees, kudzu, Mediterranean fruit flies, boll weevils, and water hyacinths have in common with crab-eating macaques or Nile perch? Answer: They are weedy species, in the sense that animals as well as plants can be weedy. What that implies is a constellation of characteristics: They reproduce quickly, disperse widely when given a chance, tolerate a fairly broad range of habitat conditions, take hold in strange places, succeed especially well in disturbed ecosystems, and resist eradication once they're established. They are scrappers, generalists, opportunists.They tend to thrive in human-dominated terrain because in crucial ways they resemble Homo sapiens : aggressive, versatile, prolific, and ready to travel. The city pigeon, a cosmopolitan creature derived from wild ancestry as a Eurasian rock dove ( Columba livia ) by way of centuries of pigeon fanciers whose coop-bred birds occasionally went AWOL, is a weed. So are those species that, benefiting from human impacts upon landscape, have increased grossly in abundance or expanded their geographical scope without having to cross an ocean by plane or by boat&mdashfor instance, the coyote in New York, the raccoon in Montana, the whitetail deer in northern Wisconsin or western Connecticut. The brown-headed cowbird, also weedy, has enlarged its range from the eastern United States into the agricultural Midwest at the expense of migratory songbirds. In gardening usage the word "weed" may be utterly subjective, indicating any plant you don't happen to like, but in ecological usage it has these firmer meanings. Biologists frequently talk of weedy species, referring to animals as well as plants.

Paleontologists, too, embrace the idea and even the term. Jablonski himself, in a 1991 paper published in Science , extrapolated from past mass extinctions to our current one and suggested that human activities are likely to take their heaviest toll on narrowly endemic species, while causing fewer extinctions among those species that are broadly adapted and broadly distributed. "In the face of ongoing habitat alteration and fragmentation," he wrote, "this implies a biota increasingly enriched in widespread, weedy species&mdashrats, ragweed, and cockroaches&mdashrelative to the larger number of species that are more vulnerable and potentially more useful to humans as food, medicine, and genetic resources." Now, as we sit in his office, he repeats: "It's just a question of how much the world becomes enriched in these weedy species." Both in print and in talk he uses "enriched" somewhat caustically, knowing that the actual direction of the trend is toward impoverishment of variety.

Regarding impoverishment, let's note another dark, interesting irony: that the two converse trends I've described&mdashpartitioning the world's landscape by habitat fragmentation, and unifying the world's landscape by global transport of weedy species&mdashproduce not converse results but one redoubled result, the further loss of biological diversity. Immersing myself in the literature of extinctions, and making dilettantish excursions across India, Madagascar, New Guinea, Indonesia, Brazil, Guam, Australia, New Zealand, Wyoming, the hills of Burbank, and other semi-wild places over the past decade, I've seen those redoubling trends everywhere, portending a near-term future in which Earth's landscape is threadbare, leached of diversity, heavy with humans, and "enriched" in weedy species. That's an ugly vision, but I find it vivid. Wildlife will consist of the pigeons and the coyotes and the whitetails, the black rats ( Rattus rattus ) and the brown rats ( Rattus norvegicus ) and a few other species of worldly rodent, the crab-eating macaques and the cockroaches (though, as with the rats, not every species&mdashsome are narrowly endemic, like the giant Madagascar hissing cockroach) and the mongooses, the house sparrows and the house geckos and the houseflies and the barn cats and the skinny brown feral dogs and a sort list of additional species that play by our rules. Forests will be tiny insular patches existing on bare sufferance, much of their biological diversity (the big predators, the migratory birds, the shy creatures that can't tolerate edges, and many other species linked inextricably with those) long since decayed away. They will essentially be tall woody gardens, not forests in the richer sense. Elsewhere the landscape will have its strips and swatches of green, but except on much-poisoned lawns and golf courses the foliage will be infested with cheatgrass and European buckthorn and spotted knapweed and Russian thistle and leafy spurge and salt meadow cordgrass and Bruce Babbitt's purple loosestrife. Having recently passed the great age of biogeography, we will have entered the age after biogeography, in that virtually everything will live virtually everywhere, though the list of species that constitute "everything" will be small. I see this world implicitly foretold in the U.N. population projections, the FAO reports on deforestation, the northward advance into Texas of Africanized honeybees, the rhesus monkeys that haunt the parapets of public buildings in New Delhi, and every fat gray squirrel on a bird feeder in England. Earth will be a different sort of place&mdashsoon, in just five or six human generations. My label for that place, that time, that apparently unavoidable prospect, is the Planet of Weeds. Its main consoling felicity, as far as I can imagine, is that there will be no shortage of crows.

Now we come to the question of human survival, a matter of some interest to many. We come to a certain fretful leap of logic that otherwise thoughtful observers seem willing, even eager, to make: that the ultimate consequence will be the extinction of us. By seizing such a huge share of Earth's landscape, by imposing so wantonly on its providence and presuming so recklessly on its forgiveness, by killing off so many species, they say, we will doom our own species to extinction. This is a commonplace argument among the environmentally exercised. In earlier years, from a somewhat less informed perspective, I've made the same argument myself. Since then, my thinking has changed. My objection to the idea now is that it seems ecologically improbable and too optimistic. But it bears examining, because it's frequently offered as the ultimate argument against proceeding as we are.

Jablonski also has his doubts. Do you see Homo sapiens as a likely survivor, I ask him, or as a casualty? "Oh, we've got to be one of the most bomb-proof species on the planet," he says. "We're geographically widespread, we have a pretty remarkable reproductive rate, we're incredibly good at co-opting and monopolizing resources. I think it would take a really serious, concerted effort to wipe out the human species." The point he's making is one that has probably already dawned on you: Homo sapiens itself is the consummate weed. Why shouldn't we survive, then, on the Planet of Weeds? But there's a wide range of possible circumstances, Jablonski reminds me, between the extinction of our species and the continued growth of human population, consumption, and comfort. "I think we'll be one of the survivors," he says, "sort of picking through the rubble." Besides losing all the pharmaceutical and genetic resources that lay hidden within those extinguished species, and all the spiritual and aesthetic values they offered, he foresees unpredictable levels of loss in many physical and biochemical functions that ordinarily come as benefits from diverse, robust ecosystems&mdashfunctions such as cleaning and recirculating air and water, mitigating droughts and floods, decomposing wastes, controlling erosion, creating new soil, pollinating crops, capturing and transporting nutrients, damping short-term temperature extremes and longer-term fluctuations of climate, restraining outbreaks of pestiferous species, and shielding Earth's surface from the full brunt of ultraviolet radiation. Strip away the ecosystems that perform those services, Jablonski says, and you can expect grievous detriment to the reality we inhabit. "A lot of things are going to happen that will make this a crummier place to live&mdasha more stressful place to live, a more difficult place to live, a less resilient place to live&mdashbefore the human species is at any risk at all." And maybe some of the new difficulties, he adds, will serve as incentive for major changes in the trajectory along which we pursue our aggregate self-interests. Maybe we'll pull back before our current episode matches the Triassic extinction or the K-T event. Maybe it will turn out to be no worse than the Eocene extinction, with a 35 percent loss of species.

Given that hope is a duty from which paleontologists are exempt, I'm surprised when he answers, "Yes, I am."

I'M NOT. MY OWN guess about the mid-term future, excused by no exemption, is that our Planet of Weeds will indeed be a crummier place, a lonelier and uglier place, and a particularly wretched place for the 2 billion people comprising Alan Durning's absolute poor. What will increase most dramatically as time proceeds, I suspect, won't be generalized misery or futuristic modes of consumption but the gulf between two global classes experiencing those extremes. Progressive failure of ecosystem functions? Yes, but human resourcefulness of the sort Julian Simon so admired will probably find stopgap technological remedies, to be available for a price. So the world's privileged class&mdashthat's your class and my class&mdashwill probably still manage to maintain themselves inside Homer-Dixon's stretch limo, drinking bottled water and breathing bottled air and eating reasonably healthy food that has become incredibly precious, while the potholes in the road outside grow ever deeper. Eventually the limo will look more like a lunar rover. Ragtag mobs of desperate souls will cling to its bumpers, like groupies on Elvis's final Cadillac. The absolute poor will suffer their lack of ecological privilege in the form of lowered life expectancy, bad health, absence of education, corrosive want, and anger. Maybe in time they'll find ways to gather themselves in localized revolt against the affluent class, and just set to eating them, as Wells's Morlocks ate the Eloi. Not likely, though, as long as affluence buys guns. In any case, well before that they will have burned the last stick of Bornean dipterocarp for firewood and roasted the last lemur, the last grizzly bear, the last elephant left unprotected outside a zoo.

Jablonski has a hundred things to do before leaving for Alaska, so after two hours I clear out. The heat on the sidewalk is fierce, though not nearly as fierce as this summer's heat in New Delhi or Dallas, where people are dying. Since my flight doesn't leave until early evening, I cab downtown and take refuge in a nouveau-Cajun restaurant near the river. Over a beer and jambalaya, I glance again at Jablonski's 1991 Science paper, titled "Extinctions: A Paleontological Perspective." I also play back the tape of our conversation, pressing my ear against the little recorder to hear it over the lunch-crowd noise.

Among the last questions I asked Jablonski was, What will happen after this mass extinction, assuming it proceeds to a worst-case scenario? If we destroy half or two thirds of all living species, how long will it take for evolution to fill the planet back up? "I don't know the answer to that," he said. "I'd rather not bottom out and see what happens next." In the journal paper he had hazarded that, based on fossil evidence in rock laid down atop the K-T event and others, the time required for full recovery might be five or ten million years. From a paleontological perspective, that's fast. "Biotic recoveries after mass extinctions are geologically rapid but immensely prolonged on human time scales," he wrote. There was also the proviso, cited from another expert, that recovery might not begin until after the extinction-causing circumstances have disappeared. But in this case, of course, the circumstances won't likely disappear until we do.

Still, evolution never rests. It's happening right now, in weed patches all over the planet. I'm not presuming to alert you to the end of the world, the end of evolution, or the end of nature. What I've tried to describe here is not an absolute end but a very deep dip, a repeat point within a long, violent cycle. Species die, species arise. The relative pace of those two processes is what matters. Even rats and cockroaches are capable&mdashgiven the requisite conditions namely, habitat diversity and time&mdashof speciation. And speciation brings new diversity. So we might reasonably imagine an Earth upon which, ten million years after the extinction (or, alternatively, the drastic transformation) of Homo sapiens , wondrous forests are again filled with wondrous beasts. That's the good news.


Genetic Management of Fragmented Animal and Plant Populations

That is the title of a new textbook that will be available mid-2017.

After almost 6 years work, authors Dick Frankham, Jonathan Ballou, Katherine Ralls, Mark Eldridge, Michele Dudash, Charles Fenster, Bob Lacy & Paul Sunnucks have produced an advanced textbook/research monograph that aims to provoke a paradigm shift in the management of small, isolated population fragments of animals and plants.

One of the greatest unmet challenges in conservation biology is the genetic management of fragmented populations of threatened animal and plant species. More than a million small, isolated, population fragments of threatened species are likely suffering inbreeding depression, loss of evolutionary potential, and elevated extinction risks (genetic erosion). Re-establishing gene flow between populations is required to reverse these effects, but managers very rarely do this. On the contrary, molecular genetic methods are mainly being used to document genetic differentiation among populations, with most studies concluding that genetically differentiated populations should be managed separately (i.e., kept isolated), thereby dooming many populations to eventual extinction.

The need for a paradigm shift in genetic management of fragmented populations has been highlighted as a major issue in conservation. The rapidly advancing field of molecular genetics is continually providing new tools to measure the extent of population fragmentation and its genetic consequences. However, adequate guidance on how to use these data for effective conservation is still lacking, and many populations are going extinct principally for genetic reasons. Consequently, there is now urgent need for an authoritative textbook on the subject.

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We’re sorry, but 50/500 is still too few

Some of you who are familiar with my colleagues’ and my work will know that we have been investigating the minimum viable population size concept for years (see references at the end of this post). Little did I know when I started this line of scientific inquiry that it would end up creating more than a few adversaries.

It might be a philosophical perspective that people adopt when refusing to believe that there is any such thing as a ‘minimum’ number of individuals in a population required to guarantee a high (i.e., almost assured) probability of persistence. I’m not sure. For whatever reason though, there have been some fierce opponents to the concept, or any application of it.

Yet a sizeable chunk of quantitative conservation ecology develops – in various forms – population viability analyses to estimate the probability that a population (or entire species) will go extinct. When the probability is unacceptably high, then various management approaches can be employed (and modelled) to improve the population’s fate. The flip side of such an analysis is, of course, seeing at what population size the probability of extinction becomes negligible.

‘Negligible’ is a subjective term in itself, just like the word ‘very‘ can mean different things to different people. This is why we looked into standardising the criteria for ‘negligible’ for minimum viable population sizes, almost exactly what the near universally accepted IUCN Red List attempts to do with its various (categorical) extinction risk categories.

But most reasonable people are likely to agree that < 1 % chance of going extinct over many generations (40, in the case of our suggestion) is an acceptable target. I’d feel pretty safe personally if my own family’s probability of surviving was > 99 % over the next 40 generations.

Some people, however, baulk at the notion of making generalisations in ecology (funny – I was always under the impression that was exactly what we were supposed to be doing as scientists – finding how things worked in most situations, such that the mechanisms become clearer and clearer – call me a dreamer).

So when we were attacked in several high-profile journals, it came as something of a surprise. The latest lashing came in the form of a Trends in Ecology and Evolution article. We wrote a (necessarily short) response to that article, identifying its inaccuracies and contradictions, but we were unable to expand completely on the inadequacies of that article. However, I’m happy to say that now we have, and we have expanded our commentary on that paper into a broader review. Read the rest of this entry »

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Poodles - running out of time

Poodles are so broke genetically that only a concerted international effort from those that love the breed will save it, warns the Institute of Canine Biology.

In a strongly-worded open letter to the Poodle Club of Canada, the ICB urges breeders to stop squabbling over cosmetic issues such as the banning of parti-colours or it will be too late for the breed.

An open letter to the Canadian Poodle clubs:

There is no genetic technology that will restore the Standard Poodle breed to the good health that all dogs deserve. This can only be accomplished by breeders, who must recognize that time is very quickly running out for this breed. It is going to require a substantial realignment of priorities as well as an extraordinary level of cooperation among breeders around the world. Geneticists can provide guidance in this process and there are many that are ready and willing to help. But breeders need to know that it is possible to break something to the point where it cannot be fixed. The responsibility to get this right is solely yours.

Carol Beuchat, PhDScientific DirectorInstitute of Canine Biology, USA&Department of Molecular and Cell BiologyUniversity of California Berkeley, USA

Finally, an organisation with two fully-descended testicles has stood up and called it as it is, rather than continue to pussyfoot round breeders with an appeasing grin and much hand-wringing about the need to keep everyone on board.

I am sure that Beuchat and her colleagues thought long and hard before writing a letter that so doesn't pull its punches. It should be hard to ignore given the quality of those signatures.

But there's no doubt that being this outspoken to dog breeders is a calculated risk. I know I won't be the only one holding my breath in the hope that it won't backfire.

The whole canine diversity movement was started by scientist and poodle lover , the late Dr John Armstrong. Thanks to his teaching (see The Poodle and the Chocolate Cake, written in 1998) and initiatives such as the Standard Poodle Project, the breed has been well-documented genetically. Indeed, Poodle breeders were among the first to embrace the need to reduce inbreeding - and the ICB's online course for Poodle breeders which started this week is, I hear, very well subscribed.

The ICB is also hosting an ambitious effort to create a global pedigree database for Standard Poodles - in fact being overseen by Mary Jane Weir, President of the Poodle Club of Canada (so one imagines she must be party to the above letter). I'm a huge admirer of Mary Jane. She knows her stuff and has already done so much to raise awareness about the impact dwindling genetic diversity has on the immune system.

I hope the ICB now throws its weight behind a world genetics congress for the breed.

If Poodle breeders could come together now in an international conservation effort to show the rest of world how it's done, it would be amazing. And a fitting tribute to John Armstrong, who cared so passionately about his Poodles and wanted the world to care, too.

197 comments:

Oh blimey, I hadn't realised Poodles were in such dire straits!

I just hope the breeders sit-up and take notice.There are probably breeders already who are desperately trying to breed more genetically-diverse dogs, but they are outnumbered by those who still think line-breeding (i.e. inbreeding) is the only way to go.

Whilst the efforts of those breeding for diversity are admirable, the vitriole heaped upon them and others who challenge the status quo, is quite breathtaking.

I hope they manage to save the Poodle. I hope it doesn't reach the point where, like the CKCS, not even an outcross can save the breed.

Why not get back to basics and stop complicating things or worrying about hearing your own voice echoing back to you?

Dr. Armstrong said a long time ago to outcross to the other varieties, i.e., miniature and toy poodles to Standard poodles.
Dr. Kennedy and Dr. Pederson concur to outcross to the other poodle varity sizes. What is so hard about that? We are so fortunate to actually have TWO other varieties to breed to rather than just look at crossbreeding to another breed. Due to island population genetics, the other poodle varieties (that according to the breed standard only should vary in size) while have different genotypes yet are the same phenotypes except size which is easy to remedy. There are only maybe less than a dozen Standard Poodle breeders that are actually doing this. Other breeders actively try to eat their young or just ignore. certainly do not support them. And this is the first I've ever seen that Mini's are very healthy as a group. according to what study or is just more hearsay from some chainsmoking woman sitting in front of her computer? Several brave souls have noted that on the Standard Poodle project that the ruling clique is more concerned about promoting their own dogs or discussing diversity than actually doing something positive. Many people have been disappointed that they followed some that hold themselves out as "experts" only to be ignored, if not attacked, when they purchased breeding stock and bred according to their directives. It's hard to stay in power as a the Expert Clique if you let in new people. It upsets the power dynamics and unfortunately, it seems that more are invested in their power base as they perceive it, rather than the future of Standard Poodles despite their protests to the contrary. The proof is in the pudding. Many times we hear: It's low COI, then no, it's Wycliffe %, no, no, everyone must do DLA testing. Now it's COI (coeffiecient of inbreeding), oh, no wait, we must study genetics and get a virtual degree in genetics to REALLY know what the we're doing not to produce "a hell of a litter". In the meantime, time clicks by and other people are out there producing "merle poodles" (talk about a "hell of a litter") and then their is slew of regulations in the U.S. that are ready to be put in place that will greatly reduce the genetic pool of all purebred dogs (not a word of that mentioned by ICB). Always follow the money. The scientist, bless them all, want grant money and want to follow the holy grail of mapping the genome, individual breeders are just that individuals usually tooting their own horns, testing companies want you to spend testing money and vets want tests and vaccination money. Graphs show a direct correlation with COI and disease incidence. It'd be interesting to see correlations of vaccinosis and disease or exposure to chemicals or different diets to disease. Has anybody looked at that? In the meantime, Calling out to all brave souls to outcross according to Dr. Armstrong, Dr. Pederson, and Dr. Kennedy's respective studies. And if you are not brave, then at least refrain from attacking those that are braver than you. And don't waste your time arguing with me. argue with the pleading Poodle eyes if you're lucky enough to have some in your home.

Ruling clique that promotes diversity. I've heard that high-school mean girl argument before and it's an insane concept. Diversity breeders are the ones normally marginalized and who have been largely ridiculed and attacked - and I don't think I've ever seen the people who have been concerned with diversity since the early 2000s attacking anyone. They are typically pretty low key and in my experience they don't ever say "follow me" - they say "here's the evidence, what do you think?" There are certainly a great many unscrupulous profit-focused breeders who have used the diversity message as some sort of puppy-milling marketing scheme - not unlike the doodle message, and diversity breeders have had to be cautious not to promote that, but the idea that they are either a clique or ruling anything at all is ridiculous.

Also, nobody has perfect answers. Low COI IS beneficial, low Wycliffe IS beneficial, DLA testing IS helpful, an understanding of genetics IS really worthwhile, but NOTHING is a guarantee, and no one offered one. We are all just trying to struggle along as we can with a really difficult problem. Jeesh.

If you ever felt slighted, I'll bet it was unintentional. And If you say you are braver than others, why on earth are you anonymous? Come out and try to fix the issues if you have a legitimate gripe.

Besides, there's only one group of powerful breeders and they are the members of the Poodle Club of America. Like any other group, some are wonderful and others are not.

My opinion is only one, but I feel that handlers have a lot of power here in getting more diversity intertwined with mainstream breeders. A very large percentage of serious breeders show in AKC conformation (I'm speaking of the US), and will snub any dog that looks different. The few brave souls who are trying to bring diverse pedigrees, and, God forbid, red poodles into the show ring can attest to that. Hell-bent line breeders will swear that outcrossing is more dangerous than linebreeding a line whose issues you know about. I personally feel that knowing issues are in a line doesn't tell you diddly squat about how to prevent or predict their occurrence. Many, many frown upon crossing varieties. Owners of poodles can tell you that minis, toys, and standards are not created equally in temperament, despite the written standard (put forth by PCA) saying they should appear equal. Again, ask the folks who know about colored poodles how crossing the varieties worked for and/or against the up and coming introduction of different colors. To me, the simplest answer would be to not look down on those making an effort to promote diversity but to try to understand the motivation and be supportive in bringing in what little diversity is left. I think most of us do prefer that to outcrossing to another breed. For dogs' sake, the status quo is killing the poodles! It certainly, to me, doesn't seem like it is going to hurt an already endangered breed. Maybe I am wrong. Breeders need to be forthcoming with one another especially about what is happening when they make certain breeding decisions. If crossing mini x standard is creating monsters, be up front! We have to be a bit more (or a lot more) objective & honest with one another and ourselves in order to make changes. Unfortunately, kennel blindness is in huge supply, both in and out of the show ring.

I have seen the results of 11 different breeders' mini x standard combinations and they are lovely Poodles.
Inter-variety matings in Poodles used to be done with regularity until about just after WWII for Mini/Stan and to the Seventies/Eighties for Toy/Mini.
So, this concept is nothing new. Do people here realize Poodle pedigrees are such that:
All Toys have Miniature and Standards in their pedigree
All Miniatures have Toy and Standards in their pedigree
and
All Standards have Miniature and Toy in their pedigree
Some of us have these combinations closer in the generations than others, but in Poodles, we all have some of the other varieties in our dogs.

Perhaps one of the best discussions on this subject was posted to The Standard Poodle Project email group this morning. Many breeders and scientists are working on this situation that afflicts many pure-bred animals - a closed gene pool and how to best proceed. In dogs, the scientists are reportedly learning, (according to Mary Jane Weir's post on The Standard Poodle Project today and at other times) that variation of the DLA haplotype is beneficial. Mary Jane Weir wrote a very wonderful post today -- essentially stating that dogs with heterozygous DLA, meaning those "inheriting two different variations (haplotypes) in the DLA gives an individual dog better odds against infections" and some disease.
To me, that is a very important lesson for dog breeders. Thank you Mary Jane for sharing your knowledge so willingly and often.
I think this link I am posting helps people better understand the importance of the DLA and you see some familiar names posted as the researchers (L J Kennedy and N. C. Pedersen). Mary Jane is on a first name basis with these particular scientist researchers striving to help pure-bred dogs and she shares what she learns from them with the everyday Poodle breeder. It probably isn't stated enough, we deeply appreciate all your work Mary Jane Weir!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dog_leukocyte_antigen

Julie, DLA testing is useful but not definitive - and, indeed, Genoscoper has dropped it. The issue is some DLA haplotypes appear to be linked to specific diseases - ergo, it might not be appropriate to conserve that particular haplotype simply because it is rare in the breed.

Jemima,
Exactly. Agreed.
But what is thought to be very important at this time in the research, is as I was trying to communicate above, that the DLA Haplotypes inherited from each parent are best when they are not the same haplotype (homozygous DLA) and it is thought that there is a better chance for the immune system to work properly if the haplotypes inherited from each parent are different haplotypes (heterozygous)

Weir is a poodle breeder. This isn't an outside individual standing up against breeders, it's informed breeders standing up against 'old guard' breeders. And there ARE informed poodle breeders who breed for diversity, and have been since Armstrong's day. You want to do something positive to help breeds and breeders who care about them on your blog rather than constantly banging on about the negative? Consider contacting Weir and ask her for an interview about what breeders involved with the Standard Poodle Project are doing.

Astonishing. Anyone would think that that wasn't exactly what I wrote.

But I'm afraid you can't have it both ways.

If Poodle breeders are doing everything possible, and the breed is still in such a mess, then. they need a new strategy.

Clearly, Weir is complicit in this letter and she wouldn't have sanctioned it if there was not a huge concern about the negative genetic influence on the breed by those breeders squabbling about colour while Rome burns.

Incidentally, I've had one private email from someone a bit confused about how removing parti-colours from the breeding pool could have a negative impact genetically. The answer is that breeders are not just removing individuals. They're eschewing or excising whole lines from their breeding programmes.

Thank you for editing the original post to better reflect the point. I am tired of seeing it implicated that all breeders are idiots ruining breeds. Some breeders have scientific educations, and some are well-educated laymen. The problem is that there is a large majority who either don't understand or don't care, and the majority of dogs bred thus contain a minority of diversity, and the dogs with the majority of diversity are bred in smaller numbers by fewer people.

Agreed. And I've just tweaked it some more.

I'm confused. Weir is the one the letter was addressed to right? She isn't a cosigner of the letter.

I think in spirit she probably is, Anon.

How is it possible that the "responsible" breeders have "genetic diversity" while others do not? It is the diversity of the whole Standard Poodle population which is important.

Nothing to do with 'responsible' breeders vs 'irresponsible' breeders as those terms are highly subjective. To some, 'responsible' breeding is only breeding what does well at a show or at a traditional work and binning everything else and any diversity it represents (selecting hard for working ability can be almost as bad as selecting for appearance, and in this breed is difficult considering the drainage of the fens in which they were originally bred to work and the lack of need of the owners to bring in ducks for dinner every day). To others, it's doing every health test there is, even if some do not tell a great deal, and disqualifying every dog that does not meet exacting standards, which can also be harmful when tests like BVA hip scoring recommendations mean that in theory, half the population and the diversity it represents will be lost. Many breeders who are not typically thought of as responsible may have reservoirs of diversity in their dogs, simply because the diverse dogs were not favoured in the show ring and have only survived in the hands of those who do not care about 'show quality'. We need to get over politics and breeders slagging off other breeders and preaching about responsibility if we are to move forward on this, and help breeders to access information to better enable them make informed decisions. As others have said, there are no right and wrong answers, and diversity is needed in breeding strategies as well as in the genetics of the dogs. The more breeders who understand the science involved and all the evidence, the more there are who are likely to make positive, informed breeding choices that will improve the genetic diversity of the breed population as a whole.

If you look at all of the statistics posted by the Standard Poodle Project you'll see that both COI and %Whycliffe have been declining for the population at large, but not so for show poodles. I'm not a poodle person but know a little about statistics. I'd say this suggests that, apart from the show crowd, poodle breeders are beginning to turn away from inbreeding. Note, the trend began before PDE I. My guess is it's a self-recognition arising in the poodle crowd, perhaps thanks to Armstrong and those associated with him. In the long run, this bodes well for standard poodles. If there is a core group dedicated to maintaining breed health, there is hope. I wish I could see signs of equivalent intelligence from the pug, bulldog, or Frenchie communities. My guess is it can be found in other breed groups with greater or lesser effectiveness.

Could they be bred with Portuguese or Spanish Water Dogs - they are related already.

Those gene pools are already in trouble Catherine they would be a last resort..
Lucky for Standard Poodles, they have Miniature and Toy Poodle lines in which to acquire some diversity. A Poodle is a Poodle is a Poodle, If you have have been happily bewitched by one in each variety, you know just that. No reason to cross to another breed when one can combine varieties within the same breed.

I wouldn't really worry to much as the rate at which poodles are now crossed there won't be many left anyhoo.

That is a perfect example thank you! Goldendoodles are plagued with health problems. No better example of outcrossing.

And what health problems are Golden Doodles plagued with?

Good to see Dr Armstrong getting recognition. I can't think of anyone who has done more to turn a breed around. I hope the more enlightened breeders who have listened are able to succeed.

I'm no expert here, but it seems like poodles are a fascinationg and unusual case in that the bottleneck that reduced genetic diversity was artificially created by the Fancy well after WWII, and the problem was recognized and education and action on it began relatively early.

Footnotes:
* parti-colored were allowed up through around 1960 in most places and are known for centuries, eg., they show up in many old paintings.
* the UK KC allows parti-colored poodles and a few have been titled in the last decade.
* The AKC disqualifies them from conformation shows, as does the ANKC (Australia).

Can someone explain the politics of poodle history? Is the movement to ban parti-coloreds part an parcel of the trend that brought the Wycliff dogs to an overwhelming position of dominance in the show world. and in the poodle gene pool?

Jennifer, I think you mean the UKC allows parti-colours, not the UK KC? The breed standard here still states: "Non solid colours are highly undesirable and should be heavily penalised." I am not aware of any UK champion parti-colours.

Oops! You're exactly right. I read UKC as UK KC.

There's no 'UK KC' -- it's called the KC, and calling it the 'UK KC' should be avoided for precisely that reason.

I'm waiting with baited breath for the usual head-in-the-sand responses to arrive, despite the depth of scientific factual evidence behind this.

That's all very valuable, but not as ballsy as it needs to be. To aspire merely to "reduce additional loss of genetic diversity to an absolute minimum" is to aspire only to SLOW the poor Poodle's decline into obliteration.

It really has to be said in big bold letters, that UNRELATED dogs - meaning almost certainly OTHER BREEDS - must, that is MUST, be introduced into multiple Poodle lines in order to save it.

We saw it with the breeding of the Bobtail Boxer that crossing with Corgis, of all things, left no visible trace except for the natural bobtail, within a couple of generations: http://dogbreedguide.whosyadoggy.com/?x=4A

Breeders have to be educated that this CAN and MUST be done! Registry rules must changed to accommodate this, if registries wish to continue having live dogs to register.

I do not know much about poodles, but I think there are three sizes. Are all three genetically pauperised or could one interbreed here for added genetic variety?

the 3 sizes are genetically different.. and several experiments crossing minis and standards created a whole new set of diseases. I feel the future is in bringing in a 4rth size Klein from the European countries and bring up size.. since it is already so difficult to breed minis to 15 inches or less there is a wealth of oversized minis to contribute..due to multitudes of mini breeders who finished puppy champions and never bother to tell anyone their dog is oversize as an adult, most mini pedigrees contain the klein size poodle anyway..so just keep selectively breeding to the larger mini to larger mini and before you know it you have 20 inch standards!! out of my last 5 litters only 3 individuals are in size..the largest being 18 inches and 23 pounds.. hell of an agility dog.. and stunning to look at..minis have their own sub set of diseases but at least we dont have a derth hip problems and bloat.. and we do have optigen and cerf for eye diseases which decimated the mini population years ago.

Which experiments crossing the varieties "created a whole new set of diseases?" I wish people would use real examples as well as understand the lack of power anecdotal information has. Lots of readers just swallow these statements whole.

Agreed! Science is about observations that are backed up with evidence either for or against your statements/hypothesis.

Please provide some references. Otherwise it's just an opinion.

Vickie,
Your post is only half correct.
True: we are fortunate to have Caniche Moyen (14" to 18" / 35cm-45cm) around the world and Kleins from Germany to assist in opening the gene pool for Standard Poodles by introducing their blood carefully (as to not create any more bottlenecks on a popular line). That is if they are imported to countries where it is permitted by the country's kennel club to combine varieties of Poodles (known as breeds in some countries and thus cannot be combined without great effort to petition the particular kennel club to permit - this did work in the Nineteen-Nineties with the Finland KC with the help of Dr Armstrong). I think there may be about a dozen Poodle breeders now combining varieties that I have read about in US and Canada.
False: unless you site/reference the "whole new set of diseases" in a peer-reviewed paper (of which I am certain, if this had actually occurred due to combing varieties within a breed, or in any dog matings, there would be papers a plenty), then it might be best for Poodles that you not post such sensationalism and that you may wish to post a retraction/correction here. There is also the option of posting the studies about the new set of diseases you post prominently above that were brought on by this practice of course.
To add, since it was suggested by Dr Armstrong in the late Nineteen-Nineties, inter-variety matings in Poodles are done more each year and are recommended by top genomics researchers as a step needed to assist the gene pool in Standard Poodles.
For those interested, there is a splendid chart 1/3rd the way down this wikipedia site that best shows the size references of Poodles around the world -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poodle

There is a similar situation currently going on in the Mastiff community. We have been trying to gain recognition and acceptance for the piebald coat colouring which based on historical evidence is undoubtedly a natural breed colour variation. There are many breeders that support piebalds but many more against them. It defies logic to us as we can’t seem to find any good reasons for the colour bias, except for that it is written in the current Mastiff breed standard that the colouring is unacceptable for the breed. Ironically the creator of the blueprints for the modern Mastiff breed standard considered pieds admissible and equal for purity. The colouring was just omitted when his Standard Points For the English Mastiff were adopted by the Old English Mastiff Club in 1883. Most probably due to a lack of understanding genetics and the desire to set the breed apart from the Saint Bernard. which makes it no less valid a Mastiff colour!

Sadly the modern Mastiff comes from an even a smaller genetic base than the Poodle, if natural variations of coat colour continue to be unrecognized and regarded as unacceptable within the breed we cannot be serving it’s best interests. It is so good to see canine biologists and geneticists taking a stand for the parti-poodle, hopefully their research will be able to support the forsaken piebald Mastiff as well.

Post to come about the Mastiffs..

I think if you look, you will find that the reason for the elimination of piebalds was the Eugenics movement. Their theory of colour breeding was that the only "pure" and "strong" colours were solid black, brown and white (hence the long-time restriction of FCI Poodles to those 3 colours). Spotted dogs were considered "impure" and "weak". Art historians brought to my attention that during the latter half of the 19th century, spotted animals disappeared from many domestic species - horses, cattle, sheep, dog breeds etc.

My goodness. I didn't know that.

So the piebald 'impurity' is a breeding meme that arose out of the Eugenics movement continues to exist in dog breeding today.

Dunno about that: seems to me that most cows, many horses and pigs are spotted. what about black faced sheep?

Look at Balyaev's work with foxes. Selectively bred over several generations for tame temperament yet he got piebald coats.They were a result of genetic selection of the endocrine system primarily and the switching on off of certain genes was asode effect of the coat colour.

Why is that eugenics mentality still at work, depsite the scientific evidence?

All pedigree breeding is pure eugenics, by definition. They are the ultimate 'designer dogs'. I think we should employ both of those terms more often when discussing these irresponsible pedigree breeding practices.

On a purely personal note, I absolutely LOVE spotty piebald dogs. Patchy Poodles are a delight.

Same problem in Shar Peis. Two "traditional" coat colors, which you can find pictures of from early days, are "Irish Spotted" and "Flowered". The flowereds are totally cool, and distinct-to-the-breed pattern. Both are non-standard. The Shar Pei breed is in complete shambles, starting with far less genetic diversity than even Poodle, with it's own, special and widespread deadly disease, Familial Shar Pei Fever. The heads are in the sand with this breed, too. Look at the show line-ups. Despite any solid color but white being accepted, you will never see anything but fawn and black, and black only rarely. And the wrinkles are incredibly profuse, despite the fact heavy wrinkling is linked to disease. vanity wins again.

My mum-in-law used miniature poodles for agility. They're the sweetest little dogs and she wouldn't ever change their personalities, but they've had so many health problems over the years that she'd never buy one again. In fact, her younger dogs are rat terriers because their stock is much hardier.

The miniatures are very long-lived, though - as a new paper from VetCompass reveals. post to come shortly.

Oh, long-lived for certain! But not necessarily healthier.

Please give credit to the members of the Poodle Club of Canada: they have supported Dr. Kennedy's investigation into Standard Poodle DLA , have accepted the results of both Kennedy's and Pedersen's research and voted to remove the disqualification from partis as part of the effort to preserve what diversity remains in the SP gene pool and to prevent Miniatures and Toys from traveling further down the same path. They are educating themselves 5 enrolled in Duke University's first year online genetics course, and 3 are now taking the ICB courses.
I give full credit to those long-time breeder members of the Club who have taken heed of the findings over the last 3 years and have acted to change course and breeding practices.
The opposition was organized at PCA's National this spring, and tactics have included mass membership applications (over 60) to change voting patterns a telephone and email campaign to change votes and the filing of a class-action lawsuit. This opposition has resulted in the CKC requiring a re-vote on the changes proposed to the breed standard. One factor which does not occur in other jurisdictions is the oversight of all purebred breeds by Agriculture Canada, which requires that breeds registered in Canada be healthy and sustainable."Purebred" in Canada is defined by federal law as a 7/8ths pedigree.

There is no easy solution to increasing diversity within the SP gene pool the geneticists are meeting this weekend at Tufts to discuss ways and means. The problem is that
1. we don't yet know enough about the immune system to be certain of ways to improve it.
2. the fear is that a number of the immune-mediated diseases are "fixed" ie, the healthy forms of those genes have been lost, so you can't cure the problem by one outcross. The moment you cross back into the SP gene pool, you re-add those disease genes into your mix.
3. In Canada all Poodles are one breed, and the recommended cross is to the next smaller size, which studies have shown is a separate gene pool unfortunately, immune-mediated diseases are being increasingly reported in Minis, which argues that the same process is happening there. There are pockets of diversity still existing in SPs, and bloodlines have been isolated and prevented from being absorbed into the mainstream gene pool by the Standard Poodle Project numbers there are very few. Related breeds themselves are also in trouble and turn up disease such as Addisons frequently they may not be any improvement.
5. some highly inbred bloodlines cannot be outcrossed if a breeder tries to do so, they produce "litters from h**l" how do we know when such a bloodline which has reached a form of stability needs an outside cross and how do we do it?

These are questions which must be answered by geneticists and breeders together - worldwide. One thing the research studies have shown is that Poodles are a truly international breed. Action has to happen in the UK and Europe as well as North America.

Yes, I am a second-generation Poodle breeder and also a member of the Standard Poodle Club here in the UK. I credit the late Shirley Walne for discussing with me an alternate method to the accepted practices of inbreeding and linebreeding. It took a few years, and the stark contrast between Vulcan and Wycliffe bloodlines in my own kennel when faced with parvo (before a vaccine) but I did learn!

MJ, also interested re this: "In Canada all Poodles are one breed, and the recommended cross is to the next smaller size, which studies have shown is a separate gene pool unfortunately, immune-mediated diseases are being increasingly reported in Minis, which argues that the same process is happening there."

BUT different DLA haplotypes, no? If the immune issues in either breed are, as suspected, due to lack of diversity, surely there is some potential in an outcross (several) to Minis?

DLA haplotype #1 is the most common in all 3 sizes a number of others are shared. The PCC has not yet submitted sufficient samples from Minis and Toys to compare properly. It looks as if the distribution of the haplotypes is the main difference, along with extra haplotypes not so far found in SPs. However, DLA is not the whole immune system and should not be considered a sufficient test of diversity we need that "whole genome test"!

Agreed.. which is where Genscoper will come in, yes?

Jemima
That is always my question too. The best I can tell is that N. C. Pedersen has done or is closest to a publicly-offered, genome evaluation for Poodles.. . .
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poodle

Interesting. thank you for that, Julie (and good to "see" you again. feels like quite a long time ago now that I got thrown off CanGen. )

Thank you so much for this comprehensive explanation. Interested to read this:

"some highly inbred bloodlines cannot be outcrossed if a breeder tries to do so, they produce "litters from h**l""

Presuming you mean outcrossed within the breed? How does it manifest - and how well documented is it? I have heard it from other breeders in other breeds too and always wonder if it properly stands up to scrutiny.It doesn't make much genetic sense to me.

Actually, it is a well-known phenomenon in genetics. Dr. Noor of Duke explained that a few out of many inbred lines achieve stability (those are the surviving lab mice strains). Their overall vigour is less than the truly outcrossed, but in a protected environment (vet care etc) they are acceptably healthy. However, if something challenges that stability, bringing the bloodline safely to a new sable state is very difficult. He did not explain why these bloodlines exist in genetic terms.

Understood, MJ, but the stability (if unchallenged) achieved in very inbred mice is different, I think, to what's being suggested here. AFAIK there is no dog breed that is anything like as inbred/'purged' as an inbred laboratory mouse - ergo, I remain sceptical and ask for a definition of "litter from hell" - a functional or aesthetic hell? A tenet of farming is to cross two independent, inbred strains to produce a vigorous/high yield first-gen cross. Genetics is genetics. Why would this not work in Poodles? Any geneticists reading who could give input here?

I agree: but what does "litter from h**l mean? Healthwise or from the perspective of show poodles?

Sometimes an outcross works really well, and sometimes they seem more disastrous. When you consider dog breeding in reality, and not in theory (where it's really easy to demand change from breeders) and you are the one to raise and place 6 to 12 puppies, how willing are you to take a chance on a total unknown? Is it more responsible to breed to a known quantity when your experience is that you will have healthier puppies overall, or should you outcross based on theory when you have seen some outcrosses fail miserably? Most breeders feel responsible for a lot of little lives and the experiences of all those owners who will love them.

I put a link to this blog on my FB page, and got a comment " I don't think this applies in the slightest to poodles in the UK." Now I don't know much about poodles in the UK, anybody like to reply to this?

Read Weir's post on this blog. 'One thing the research studies have shown is that Poodles are a truly international breed. Action has to happen in the UK and Europe as well as North America.'

Pedersen's first published study on the Standard Poodle compared populations in the US and UK with respect to SA. He found no difference between the populations, except that the UK population was slightly more inbred. Kennedy's work sampled over 400 SP and SPxMP from US, UK and Europe. She found a few haplotypes were more prevalent in the UK than in the US, but basically no real difference. Leroy in France found similar warning signs in his study of the French Poodle population. Both researchers suspect that any diversity still to be found will be in Eastern Europe and among long-time breeders who have "done their own thing" and not bred to the popular show dogs. A decade or more of searching SP pedigrees worldwide for the Standard Poodle Project has not really turned up any new bloodline since 2008.

UK poodles total shambles with huge number of breeders ignoring and breeding from SA and Addisons producing lines without a care

Hmmm. Bob Grundy, above, has posted here above to say that SA is virtually eradicated in the UK Poodle population. So which is it?

SA was shown in Pedersen's study to be either fixed in the breed or environmental in nature - no way to know which since they can't find any genetic difference between the dogs with SA and those without. There has clearly been a rise in autoimmune diseases of all types however, though SA seems less of a concern now than it once was. The rate of autoimmune diseases IN GENERAL should be more of a concern than which autoimmune disease has cropped up.

Nearest I can find to hard info on this question is the SPC's SA Open Registry, recording test results. There are no doubt poodlers beyond the SPC's purview and maybe there the picture is different, but the last positive SA test on the registry was in Jan 2012. To me, that makes "virtually eradicated" much nearer the truth than "huge numbers".

Just because none has been recorded in one registry doesn't mean they don't exist! You'd have poll veterinarians and poodle owners to find out if it's been "virtually eradicated." And of course, there are always those poodles which are "subclinical" and those show any obvious symptoms. It is certainly possible that it is purely environmental, and if SA has truly been eradicated from the UK, that would be very important information to let the researchers at the AHT know - they did an initial important study that said they found no simple genetic cause for SA. Nevertheless, a malfunctioning immune system could be triggered for different diseases by different triggers.

Truly saddened to read this.

From the Standard Poodle breed standard from the UK KC website.

http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/breed/standard.aspx?id=4097
Colour
All solid colours. White and creams to have black nose, lips and eye rims, black toenails desirable. Browns to have dark amber eyes, dark liver nose, lips, eye rims and toenails. Apricots and reds to have dark eyes with black points or deep amber eyes with liver points. Blacks, silvers and blues to have black nose, lips, eye rims and toenails. Creams, apricots, reds, browns, silvers and blues may show varying shades of the same colour up to 18 months. Clear colours preferred. Non solid colours are highly undesirable and should be heavily penalised.

Why oh why do they focus on this insignificant nonsense? What is the definition of 'penalised' in this context? Breed standards are far too subjective and open to questionable interpretation which clearly is detrimental to the dogs in the wrong hands.

If these dogs were not 'shown', this wouldn't really be a problem would it? As a pet owner, why would you care that the dog didn't have a solid coat ??

Jemima, is it possible that you can do a post in the future on which breeds of dogs are actually considered genetically healthy and have a possible future of survival?

Great idea for a post. Tough, though. I'll put it out to the floor.

Dogs which are selected for function!

Which pedigree dogs are selected for health and temperament over looks? BCS? JRTs?

Even *Dogs which are selected for function* are in trouble too. ISDS regisered Border Collies are in trouble and even some farmers will *line breed* (dad to daughter) their unregistered dogs cause *he worked good* -- which is equivalent to the COI pickle that the poodle is apparently in.

Another issue is *popular sire* effect which is the pickle the Golden Retriever is in. I think I read somewhere that only 5% of males in the breed are in the pedigree. Imagine the overall COI on that!!

Many of us select our PRTs for function here in Austria.

Saluki have the most variation of DLA Haplotypes I have read - something like 22 - more than wild canids.

I would love a post on which breeds are genetically healthy and why. With an effective population size of just 43, COIs commonly above 15%, and most show lines leading back to one popular sire in the 90s, I'm betting the Whippet isn't going to be among them.

If there are lines with very distinct and different types within a breed, and one tries to cross them, the results can be very unpredictable, with a hotchpotch of characteristics that just don't add up to a harmonious whole. Suppose you cross a line that produces very big dogs long heads with another line that produces small compact shorter legged dogs with shorter muzzles, you might get some long backed dogs with short legs, and top and bottom jaws of different lengths - could be a disaster. If I'm outcrossing , I'm looking for dogs that are different in pedigree but not too different in size and type. That's very simplicistic, its actually more complicated than that

The Gaussian curve..but is that such a disaster for the F1 generation if diversity is achieved? Example at hand: designer dogs.

It can be if the mismatches are ones that effect health. In Holland Lops in rabbits the mismatch in head shape can cause such severe over and under bites that the animal would need their teeth clipped weekly to stay in good health. Not sure if you have ever clipped teeth on a rabbit but it gets old very quick. Experienced breeders are careful which lines they cross and will tell folks they mentor what to watch for in outcrosses..

But what you're referring to here are mostly cosmetic issues, Margaret (well, with the exception of the muzzles, and I do understand that there are different genes involved) and one would have to weigh up the effort/cost of breeding back to the type you want versus the benefit of the extra diversity. Almost by definition, greater diversity is going to bring with it more variety in terms of looks. Personally, I think we need to lose some of the transfixion with type. I suspect MJ is referring to health problems, though..

No - I am also saying (and to judges as well) that IF diversity is desirable in the dog's genome, then "cookie cutter litters" are not something to aim for. Especially in an all-round versatile breed like the Poodle, many different geographical and working types would have developed past the basic requirements of a sound body and mind, those types should be considered legitimate. We already know that some of our bloodlines excel at herding, but won't look at a bird - and vice-versa. You just have to look at the art history to see differences.
In Ibizan Hounds, at least 5 legitimate types exist, each coming from a different terrain and island to recognize these differences is not the end of the world!

Dorothea - let's say that "responsible breeders" as a definition now includes an awareness of the need to preserve genetic diversity.

As I suggested in a later post, the movement to disqualify partis probably takes its origin from the Eugenics movement. The original UK standard disqualified them in 1885/6. (They had been shown in previous years). Eugenicists were very prominent in both the KC and the Poodle Club. Despite disqualification, I have been told that major UK kennels bred them - Vulcan certainly did I saw the last Vulcan parti in 1971. There was an effort to re-introduce them before WWII in the UK - classes were held, but the War stopped the effort. Unfortunately, Poodle breeders have had it drummed into them since day one that the parti was an abomination and that breeders of partis were only in it for the $(which, in many cases especially in N Am was quite true). Nevertheless, some breeders soldiered on for the love of the colours and patterns, and it was these breeders who ultimately caused the patterns to be recognized by the UKC as a separate division. I am told that harlekins in Germany now have CH status within the country.
The Wycliffe story is quite separate Jean Lyle bought good stock from good breeders, and "lucked out" the first generations of Wycliffes were outstanding- excellent structure, fronts to die for, good temperaments, good coats - everything a breeder could ask for. We all bred to them, because they were way better than anything else available at the time, including the dogs from Bel Tor (in my opinion). What was she to do and where was she to go? The geneticists of the day told her to inbreed to preserve what she had, and she did for 10 generations. But her inbreeding wouldn't have mattered if her dogs had been so-so in quality - the whole Poodle SP world wouldn't have bred to them in that case! It was Dr. Armstrong's research showing the genetic bottleneck thus caused *and* his paper showing that COI (10 gens) over 6.25% showed evidence of reduced longevity (inbreeding depression). It was the PCA of the day who gave him a platform to reach breeders - and the breeders responded by reducing COI over the next decades. It was Pedersen, Kennedy and Leroy which showed that our efforts had not been enough. (Interesting to note that a couple of high COI and high % Wycliffe dogs have turned up rare haplotypes in our Study.)

Herefords disqualify white "linebacks" Jacob sheep are a rare breed, Most thoroughbreds are the basic colours. Only the Gypsy Vanner and the Appaloosa are spotted - and they are both "plebian" breeds. Check out a history of the "spotted horse" online.

Everyone thinks they are "responsible" breeders but few, I am sorry to say, understand simple Mendelian genetics, let alone population genetics. I include myself in that category and am going to take the Canine Biology Institute course. BTW, I with the enormous proof reading help of Prof. Sommerfeld-Stur, have just translated their article on why we need to know about and implement population genetics for our PRT breeders to be added to our new breeding rules.

Primarily health - production of multiple immune-mediated diseases which are not prevalent in the parent strains. My own crossed two inbred bloodlines which had no common ancestor for 6 generations (COI 1.9% in 10 gens). Both parents healthy with bloat known on one side and Addisons on the other. The 3 litters produced AD, SA, IBD, 2 cases of HD, 2 cases of bloat, epilepsy, allegies and an unknown immune collapse which killed. Sire and dam had not produced (nor had siblings) these diseases when bred elsewhere. Temperaments were excellent, structure acceptable, survivors were long-lived.

"Eugenicists were very prominent in both the KC and the Poodle Club" big statement so lets have some proof give some names and to which branches of the Eugenics movements did they belong, or is this a Harrison style of view it sound good so it must be true, with no proof to back it up?

I would love to see this study done on wolves or coyotes. They are breed by natural selection and when I look at a pack they all have very similar traits.

I fear this will become the new fad and that everyone will proceed carefully. Being from a science background I know the important decisions should not be based on one study.

I find it interesting that the Wycliff line had incredible fronts but that is now a major flaw in a very large number of poodles. Clearly all the bad fronts did not come from the Wycliffe inbreeding. Bad fronts and other issues often come from kennel blindness. Breeder education is most important now.

Does not MJTW's comment of 15:26 cast doubt on Jemima's of 13:31 that mating two separately inbred lines is a "tenet of farming"? The results of that mating were a disaster, diseases that we're told are due to inbreeding cropping up in offspring with 1.9% CoI. Maybe we need a more sophisticated measure of inbreeding than the CoI (Wright's formula) based purely on sire and dam's common ancestry. What exactly is it that we're trying to measure here?

If the Poodle breeders have spent the past few decades trying to reduce the COIs, and still the Poodle is in dire straits, where does that leave other breeds? Many breeds have continued to linebreed dogs with high COIs. Most show-bred Whippets in the UK and Europe, go back to Hillsdown Fergal, who sired Pencloe Dutch Gold, another popular sire. The majority of show-bred Whippets have COIs >15%, many are pushing 25%, and a few are 30% (over 10 generations). Auto-immune diseases are also becoming more prevalent. The average COI in the UK is 10% (brought down by the pet breeders), and it has an effective population size of just 43. The Whippet population may be fairly large, but I'd be amazed if it was as genetically sound as most of the show breeders would have us believe. We are starting to see serious health problems previously unheard of in the breed.

Jemima, you know me well enough to know I don't breed purely for appearance. But even in the outcross programme for my breed, which is primarily about ensuring the genetic health of the breed for the future, we looked also for red Irish Setters who were not only healthy and functional, but also similar in size, weight . body shape and heads to our red and white dogs, and avoided dogs who are very different in type. I wouldn't want to use a red dog to breed with an IRWS that is very disparate in type, however healthy and however diverse the pedigree, just as I wouldn't breed two IRWS together that were extreme examples of different type for example we do have some IRWS that are rather spaniel like in appearance , while mine are longer legged and shorter in the back. Its not just about show winning type, a good dog breeder also has an aesthetic sense of what is well proportioned , balanced, harmonious , and an understanding of what is functional. Breeding very different types together to get the lowest possible COI with a disregard for anything else isn't good or intelligent breeding

'Breeding very different types together to get the lowest possible COI with a disregard for anything else isn't good or intelligent breeding'

Interesting statement - I think there is far too much focus on type. And 'intelligent' dog breeding is surely about looking at what nature and scientific evidence teaches us about what is genetically healthy in a species. A human construct, such as the breed standard, is based on opinions as far as I can see.

You may have an idea of what is well proportioned, balanced and harmonious but where is your evidence that what YOU happen to think is genetically and physiologically sound ?

Well although I've challenged Margaret on this, at the end of the day we are surely looking for a balance between aesthetics and health? Individual interpretation is fine, no, as long as it doesn't compromise welfare? I've always thought as purebred dogs as living sculptures I don't think we should deny the aesthetics involved or looking to remove that element. We are not breeding robots.

'Individual interpretation is fine, no, as long as it doesn't compromise welfare? '

Agreed Jemima. But individual interpretation is by and large open to misinterpretation/abuse, depending on the individual's opinion. Great if you have a progressive and scientific breeder who is able to balance this with an eye for the sensible aesthetic, not so good if you don't.

Breed standards need a more progressive and modern reinterpretation to reflect what is truly important. it's selective breeding that is important, not pedigree breeding. Function not form. Having coat colours in breed standards harks back to eugenics.

I'd also think that breeding dogs with a long back, short legs etc., would bring some health issues to the puppies. I do think that there is definitely a case for outcrossing to bring diversity. but personally I do think that it needs to be done with "like" breeds /dogs or what is the point? We'd be just as well doing away with pure bred dogs and let the breeds in the genetic bottle neck die out and start again. We don't want that do we? The obsession with colour is a real sore point with me. Some of the stories I heard about tri-colour dogs not working as well as "standard" coloured dogs would have made me laugh. had they not been coming from breeders who don't even bother to work their dogs. I remember reading an article once about a US Standard Poodle kennel who more or less flooded the gene pool over years. I can't find the link now but it was absolutely fascinating reading. Does anybody know where I can find it please?

I disagree, partly at least. I went out hawking some years ago with a man who had an American red setter. She worked like a dream. and looked like one. These dogs are selected purely for function and all gundogs can be used:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Field_Dog_Stud_Book
"The FDSB registers dogs of all breeds, but is primarily for pointing, flushing, and retrieving breeds of gun dog. Among some breeds, such as English Setters, the FDSB will register the dog in its particular breed as well as the particular line within the breed such as the Llewellin Setter. Many dogs are registered with the FDSB as well as with other registries and with kennel clubs."

Dalriach, is there anywhere on the internet I can read about the outcross programme for your breed? I'm interested to see what's being done. Outcrossing may become necessary in many breeds.

Dorthea
I just sold a Standard Poodle pup to a longtime falconer that plans to train her to work with his Harris Hawk.
I know you from the Cangen list and will report when/if his plans come to fruition.
BTW, the pup is less than 30% Wycliffe and although that may not help her hunting performance, it could have other implications and makes my post to you on topic

"well proportioned", "balanced", harmonious", "type", "understanding of what is functional", "appearance", "longer legged", "shorter in the back", etc are all terms used by breeders breeding to an appearance standard. This standard may or may not be the same as what the breed club has currently set but it is still breeding for appearance.

Agreed. And it's subjective to the point where your idea of 'well proportioned' could be completely different to my own interpretation. Look at the GSDs topline for example. 'well proportioned' 'shorter in the back' if you want it to look like an amphibian.

I think breed standards that stipulate appearance on coat colour, eyecolour, pigmentation etc. isn't exactly ethical. Why should those features matter?

Shouldn't the function (e.g. small pet dog, suitable for living in the city) or the work of the dog be the main stipulation of the breed standard?

I am a complete sucker for a Miniture Poodle btw. They remind me of lambs and I just go nuts when I see Beagles too. It is a very primal feeling when we go all gooey over how a dog looks. But not at the price that they are having to currently pay. their immediate health and future survival as individual breeds.

Most pet buyers want dogs bred to an appearance standard they want a dog that looks like their favorite breed. If they like the appearance of pugs most won't buy a beagle because they are healthier. What they want are dogs that are bred to an appearance standard AND a health/temperament standard. What they don't understand is the appearance they like may be tied to health issues.

And pet owners seem to keep getting what they want too, despite the evidence that points to all these various health issues. Where is the joined up thinking? It's missing.

I may be wrong and stand to be corrected. But. the standard poodle was designed as a water dog/gundog/general purpose. They needed to be waterproof?, strong?, athletic, good temperament? reliable? Probably for generations those were the desired attributes until some twit decides that they could make glamorous, outstanding showdogs. So the main emphasis becomes deportment and COAT. The discomfort the dogs have endured to attain those desirable KC dictated descriptions has closed the mind of the breeders and blinded what they are breeding for, they choose a "dog on the shelf, to be shown as desired" as opposed to an intelligent, engaging, attractive dog with multipurpose attributes. Of the SPoos I've known that has been what has been so appealing, their willingness and their intelligence. What does it matter if the coat is flecked, brindle, patchy, what? The only undesirability is that the KC, and it was probably the UK who laid down the standard, have dictated solid colours only, tho' shades of same are acceptable. Today we are talking in today's speak because we now know what the damage is that has been done to most, if not all, pedigree dogs. Twenty/thirty years ago the good breeders were striding for type and quality, now we know these are not so desirable because that has caused the genetic catastrophe. We didn't intend to do that, we were just lead and prepared to be lead because in those days we were ignorant, as were our leaders. I think JH will be able to go breed by breed and reveal the same disastrous effect on purebred dogs and I refer to the genetic topic which for me was the explanation of all explanations that all living things are doomed to die out, another form will be evolved by cross breeding and it is for this reason that I see no alternative but to scrap the dog breed standards, rename them as "dog types", forget dog showing in it's present form and persuade the KC that they really have to reform, rethink, readapt and help as many dogs alive today and in the near future with medical advancement funding and stop the present nonsense, because that is exactly what we are seeing, damaging nonsense.

Could I suggest a visit to the UK Particoloured Standard Poodle site, very interesting and informative, they seemed to be referred to as Phantoms.

Georgina, phantom is one of the color types in parti color poodles. Phantoms have a dark body color with lighter points.

Thanks Michelle, nonetheless all of the colour varieties are gorgeous, and provided that they are healthy that is all that matters. Hopefully JH will be able to continue to keep us all informed about the shambolic state in all pedigree dogs because if we know what is going on then collectively we can try and get a resolution, with health and quality of life being the ultimate goal.

Thinking about type - "Type" has long been set in the Poodle breed. I was told long ago that type is what you see that sets breeds apart. If you can tell it is a Poodle, it is exhibiting Poodle breed type.
Type definition is usually the written breed standard, but the exact definition of breed type for any given breed even with the same standard in another decade can be very subjective as it can change with fads within the interpretation of the breed standards.
I have done a bit of outcrossing with good representatives and not seen breed type lost. Perhaps reintroduced to a few decades past in the look of the offspring, but that is not always a bad thing (especially for my tastes). Would possibly call that a loss of modern breed type or style, but not a loss of breed type. There is plenty of modern day type to bring it back in a program, in an INSTANT, if we get the science to help go that direction too and it is desired.

Georgina, right on! I´ve thought many times over the past few years, seeing good breeders striving to maintain general health and temperament stability in a breed that was once renowned for intelligence and will to work, whilst others breed for unmanageable amounts of coat and near-microphthalmic eyes and no more - yeah, the "dog on the shelf"! - . I´ve thought that if I were twenty years younger, I´d go over to Ireland and Wales, and pick up two or three of the best dogs I could find and the best dogs dog-knowing owners would let me buy. and I would help restart my breed. After all, that´s what mr Shirley, founder of the KC, did, right? He started with that working Irish farm collie known as Trefoil. Who am I to turn up my nose at what mr Shirley thought good enough? :-) So I´m not twenty years younger, alas. My comfort is that some of the people who are young enough to try are beginning to see things in dog breeding in a different light than they used to do. The closed studbook, gene pool restricted populations called "pure" breeds may be going out the door in the years to come, but the dog types will be with us in the foreseeable future. because we will go on needing them.

Hi Bodil, hopefully the younger generation will learn from the mistakes my generation made when breeding and showing dogs. They are enlightened because of the proof of the "sick" pedigree dogs and the "programme of 'uninformed' breeding" that created that catastrophe, there are many more opportunities to learn, either from lectures, television, internet and hopefully information from open, honest breeders. But any doubts these days can be researched further by DNA tests etc. Sites like PDE where concerned dog lovers with years of experience can exchange views is another tool for them to use. I guess ageing is the pointless part of living in many ways because if we knew when we were younger what we know now how much better it would have been for ourselves and more importantly our dogs. For me it is necessary to stay positive and optimistic for the future of dogs and trust that dogs will become healthier and like you say maybe not in the form of a breed but as a type, a type that is healthy and happy. Coincidentally, today I met a lady who had what I had assumed were two Wolfhounds, but after we'd been talking for a while, she told me that they were not Wolfhounds, they were a Standard Poodle and Great Dane cross! I was astonished, they were a repeat mating, one was 3 years old and the other was 1, and they were identical bitches. Seemingly she'd had 2 males previously from the same breeder and they had been healthy, active and long lived.

My guess is that, for poodles, the color issue has played a role in narrowing the genetic base, but that other factors in conformation breeding have played a larger role. Labradors have similar, and somewhat tighter color restrictions than poodles (ie, only three solid colors for Labs), but the range of body types accepted in Labbies is wide: from lanky to tanks. Standard poodles I've seen at shows seem to have very uniform body type, and you don't encounter many working poodles.

Jennifer,
From my view, the main reason the Standard Poodle showdogs look cookie-cutter is because on average, more than 50% of their (15 generation) genetic make-up goes back to the same 5 dogs of the 1950's.
The dogs produced with under 40% of those founders in their 15 generation pedigree are truly different in many ways, which is obvious and often welcome to those that know Standard Poodles well that have more diverse pedigrees as such.

STOP STIRRING STALE SOUP!
Find more diverse pedigrees to incorporate - if you still can. Lucky for Poodles to get such important information publicly discussed.
Now, action will speak louder than words for the gene pool.

I find this information really surprising as in my veterinary career I've generally found poodles of all sizes to be really healthy and long lived, it seems in spite of being in a genetic bottleneck!
VP

Jemima, a friend forwarded a link to this blog entry. It made my day. Good on you.

This is a pile of garbage being printed by someone that is not a genetic expert. please remeber you cannot beleive everything you read on the INTERNET. The genetic pool is much healthier then it was, breeders are far more educated. There is no magic gene pool that is going to save the breed. It is about health testing and encouraging breeders to be transparent. Instead of wasting time and money on this focusi on developing a genetic test for addisons and SA!

Where is your evidence that the 'breed is much healthier than it was,? And if it was truly genetically healthier, why the insistence on developing screening tests to detect genetic diseases!? Kind of contradicting your rationale.

I am not sure why anyone would disagree that a test for addisons is not necessary? Addisons affects 1000's of mixed breed dogs that have never been subjected to a breeders manipulation. With a test it could be controlled and hopefully eliminated. In the lest few decades testing has become available for so many genetic diseases which allows responsible breeders to avoid developing these diseases in their lines. Therefore it makes sense that the breed would be healthier. The problem that may never go away is bad breeders that refuse to health test for everything or breed poorly structured dogs.

I often wonder if the focus on health is magnified by the fact that we are left with a few horrible diseases that we cannot control.

When my very young standard poodle developed cancer I spent 100's of hours researching. What shocked me the most is the very large majority of dog affected by the same cancer were mixed breeds. Not designer dogs but mutts from decades are street breedings, etc.

It is important to remeber other breeds and mixed breeds often do not document illnesses as well as caring dog owners. This can make it look like a breed is very unhealthy but in fact it is equally healthy or in better health then other dogs. Poor food, vaccines and other poisins are the cause of so many health issues in dogs.

Rocket Star wrote: 'When my very young standard poodle developed cancer I spent 100's of hours researching. What shocked me the most is the very large majority of dog affected by the same cancer were mixed breeds. Not designer dogs but mutts from decades are street breedings, etc."

So what kind of cancer was that, then?

It was osteosarcoma in his jaw. I was devastated.

I posted a reply earlier not sure where it went?

My SP had osteosarcoma in his jaw. It is a hideous cancer I never found an affected dog that survived so I chose to not treat him and spent the last 2 weeks of his life doing everything he loved.

Sorry about your loss. You sound surprised that your dog developed cancer but it is the biggest killer of all dogs whether mutt or pedigree.

What's the comment about owners of mixed breed dogs or other breeds not necessarily being 'caring owners'? It depends on your definition of care. Perhaps just not as obsessive about illness or health issues perhaps? My mutt probably gets more time and money spent on her than the average dog. But on training classes, toys, doggy rally activities, great nutrition etc. Not vet bills. She's a mixed breed dog so I don't worry about her health because I have no idea about her genetic history. So, whatever will be will be. But I certainly take great care of her and I personally consider it a blessing that I don't worry that she is going to develop some breed specific or type specific genetic disease. But she could develop cancer tomorrow, but so could any dog. It seems pedigree dogs come with a heavy disease burden. Mutts definitely have some advantages in that regard.

A horrible way for your dog to die, Rocket Star. You have my sympathy. But I can find nothing to support your claim that the "majority" of dogs that suffer from either osteosarcoma or osteosarcoma of the jaw are mixed breeds.

A quick google search came up with this:

'The breed of dog is an important factor in determining the incidence of osteosarcoma. In the study by Kistler,(21) the German shepherd had the highest incidence, followed by the Great Dane, Saint Bernard, boxer, Irish setter, Labrador retriever, Doberman pinscher, and collie. However, when these data are compared with the relative risk of a dog of any breed developing osteosarcoma, the Saint Bernard has a relative risk of l2.77 followed by the Great Dane (7.27), golden retriever (5.27), Irish setter (4.34), Doberman pinscher (4.03), and German shepherd (2.52).(39) These findings are similar to those of Tjalma.(45)'

There is a test that breeders can use to detect auto-antibodies to the thyroid gland. If the dog tests positive, then it shouldn't be bred, because the immune system is already compromised. This suggests an increased risk of the dog's offspring developing an auto-immune disease. However, very few breeders use this test.

A dog that tests negative for anti thyroglobulin or anti T4/T3 when he's young (2-3 years) may still may go on to develop auto immune hypothyroidism later in life.

Also, in human beings, there are acceptable low levels of these antibodies that don't necessarily cause a disease burden. It depends on the test, the specificity, sensitivity and what normal range has been assigned.

Fran: Could you please provide references to the "test that breeders can use to detect auto-antibodies to the thyroid gland". I think many people are unaware of this.

Jennifer, the article below is where I got the information from:

"The animal's blood is tested for the presence of antithyroid autoantibodies. Any dog that has such antibodies circulating in the bloodstream, could potentially develop thyroid disease, and/or be vulnerable to other autoimmune diseases because his or her immune system is compromised. Responsible dog breeders use thyroid prescreening as a very important tool for selecting good breeding stock.

Common Canine Autoimmune Diseases:

As stated, Lymphocytic thyroiditis, is the most common MHC related autoimmune disease in dogs, and as such actually serves as a marker for susceptibility to a myriad of other autoimmune diseases. Some of these are:

Autoimmune hemolytic anemia (AIHA),
Immune-mediated thrombocytopenia (IMTP or ITP)
Autoimmune thyroiditis (hypothyroidism)
Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison's disease)
Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE):
Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
Myasthenia gravis"

I believe the test is TgAA, but it can be hard to get a lab that understands what you're testing for, some assume you're testing for something else.

There is no test for Addison's or SA because they haven't found a gene or set of genes that cause them after many years and several teams searching. They are likely to be either environmental or fixed in the breeds. Compare this to hip dysplasia, for which researchers have been looking far longer.

Agreed
Great blog once again.
Wish though it stated STANDARD POODLES as having the genetic bottleneck - that is the confusing part. Poodles overall are in better shape then most, as in N America we can breed the varieties together.
Parti-colors are seen in all varieties of Poodles and reportedly needed to hold onto possible rare haplotypes, The genetic bottleneck that has caused the average STD PDL to be influenced 50% by 5 dogs of the 1950's is variety specific to Std Pdls. It is cause of great concern since publicly discussed back in 1998.

Lots of money can be invested more wisely and a different direction taken if that Poodle to be reared for breeding tests as having a weak thyroid at age 1 or 2 years of age. Careful not to run during heat, soon after vaccinating or other big stress (like young male near bitch in heat).
Very good advice to run the thyroid testing through OFA criteria.

Fran: Thanks for providing references. I find it confusing that the source you cite is from the AKC Health Foundation, and that it makes no reference to the problem of homozygosity in the MHC. In effect it ignores the potential effects of inbreeding (line breeding) on genetic diversity.
I admit to being a dilatante (sp?) in this field, not a proper geneticist. But there's dissonance in being directed to consider the MHC without mention of the possible consequences of loss if diversity.

Jennifer: You are right about the article. It doesn't mention anything about inbreeding or homozygosity in the MHC. Is there a reliable genetic test for the latter, or are breeders still reliant on statistics?

The following article gives a little more information about the TgAA test. How easy it is to obtain though, I don't know.

A better approach might be for PCC to focus on teaching breeders what a breeding quailty dog is. Unfortunately poodles are often judged on hair in the conformation ring. Straight fronts have become the norm in this beautiful breed. Articles like this may led some breeders to believe that some new "gene pool" will somehow fix what is wrong with their line. All this money would have better spent on having someone like Helen King do an indepth study of the dogs currently being bred. I know that there is dozens of dogs being used that are not breeding quality. Just because you spent huge money on a pup and did health testing anf may have been lucky enough to get a conformation title it does not mean your dog is breeding quality.

The physical structure of a dog is the number one concern when breeding, health and temperment are a close second. Despite a low COI% a dog may have multiple relatives from lines affected by addisions. Therefore the low coi% dog has an equal chance of developing or passing on addisons.

Secondly PCC should be encouraging transparency in health problems. Do not just say "Put it in the PHR" show members how to do it try and identify some mentors that can walk owners through the process and explian what it means to the breed.

Hate to disappoint Ian Thompson, so hark to the head in the sand. Does this evidence show that SP's are unhealthier than other breeds, or merely that their problems are better documented? Last I heard poodles have a healthily large breeding population, low average CoI, and longer life than most pure breeds.

OK that doesn't really answer the point, which is more about the way things are going than where we are now. Assuming the geneticists are right (their evidence does not yet sound conclusive), then long-term poodles, and most other pure breeds, are doomed. My wife and my breeding aims are twofold. 1 - at least get noticed at shows, even if we win nothing. 2 - attract caring pet owners for the (great majority) non-show quality pups. Item 2 depends much on reputation that will go down the pan if our pups don't live decently long and healthy lives. I recently heard from a guy who'd bought a pup - in all senses of that phrase - from an Australian puppy farmer. Diagnosed with addison's at 6 months, she went on to develop further problems and her meds now cost $5400 a year - at least. She's a labradoodle, not a poodle, and her case is far from unique, though most folks' finances dictate that rather than lifetime meds, the pup they've fallen in love with gets PTS. If the day ever comes when we see a significant risk of doing that to one of our buyers, we'll quit dogs and go breed stick insects or something.

Trouble is, looking to avoid doom, we're getting mixed messages. A few years ago Sebacious Adenitis appeared in the UK the Standard Poodle Club's health officer displayed sufferers at our shows, and publicised where we could get screening tests before breeding result, SA is virtually eradicated here. Now we're told that by breeding out such diseases we clobber the genetic diversity - you can't win. I'd consider crossbreeding, but most poodlers - my wife included - will have none of it, and can you blame them? Cavadoodle, cockerpoo, collipoo, think up a daft name and someone's bred a dog to fit. That craze hugely inflated puppy prices, and by the laws of economics when prices go through the roof, ethics go out the window. Every affliction of each ancestor breed is now found in labradoodles, for example. Crossbreeders often give their pups pedigrees believe them if you like, no registration to back them up.

As for parti poodles, on what we see at agility meets, they have a bright future here though to my eye most of them look unattractive so we shan't be breeding them (see item 2 above). Prognosis? As things are, yes there are problems but they look manageable by careful breeding. If and when that changes, as I said, we'll quit, and if others think the same way the poodle will go extinct, leaving the field clear for the doodlers - horrible thought!

Mmmm, Bob Grundy, point 1, "at least get noticed at shows even if we win nothing". This ethic could contribute to why pedigree dogs have become so exaggerated and ultimately damaged. Perhaps you would like to clarify what you mean. My feeling is that pure bloodlines are on the way out and there will have to be crossbreeding resulting in dog breeds as we know them becoming less and less and dog types becoming the norm. That is not bad, it is just change. Some dog types will be stronger as seen in street dogs where there seem to be some sort of uniformity, even tho' they can be seen in different towns even different countries. Maybe because that type can survive thus self perpetuating. The grossly inflated prices charged for "made up breeds" by breeders should be stopped. Because crossbreeding needs to be undertaken carefully, all health tests continued on both breeds involved, as it will be the only way in years to come that dogs will survive in some form of type. People who breed for money need to be removed from the scene and let those who love dogs and want the best are given an opportunity to "control" health and welfare issues within dogs.

Bob Grundy raises valid points. If you check lifespan data on the Finnish KC database, you'll find standard poodles live around a year longer, on average, than most of the retriever breeds. The COI's on the Poodle Project website are very high (see references in JH's blog post), but does appear to be declining (less so for show dogs). And we don't have much to compare those COIs with, as most of the COI presented don't go far back 15 generations, and, thus, are artificially low.

Clarification for Georgina. Mostly our dogs are apricot coloured: that gene doesn't seem to go with the judge-pleasing dense coat, so we aim to catch the eye in other ways - angles, movement, etc.
As for crossbreeding, I'd have to first find a suitable breed, then convince madame. No good telling her we could invent a silly breed name and make a fortune selling non-selected pups, she shares Georgina's disdain for money-breeding. Any ideas, anyone?

Here's an idea. How about not giving a flying fig about what colour the dog is and appreciate that there is a pet buying public out there who simply want a physically robust, emotionally and genetically sound pet!

Thanks Bob, now I understand, I wasn't sure what you meant. What the answers are and how it is to be resolved is going to be a fascinating revelation but it needs to be strict, thoughtful, professional, organised. People like JH who doggedly keep prodding and ruffling, will help dogs enormously, but it is going to be a slow, hard slog before the breeders and the authorities understand what is happening.

But why do we need 15 gen COI calculations? According to an expert (http://www.dogworld.co.uk/product.php/101122) "going beyond five generations to calculate COIs is just a theoretical exercise that may be euphoric for a scientist but it has no practical relevance to the present day breeder".

Why is the pedigree dog world in such bad shape when we have this sort of geniuses teaching other people about genetics.

Anon 23:04. Any 'expert' who says five generations is sufficient is a phony. See:
http://www.border-wars.com/2011/10/coi-how-many-generations-are-enough.html

At the rate the individual breeds are going, even an outcross to a different breed won't be able to save them. If you breed two sick dogs together, even if they are different breeds, their offspring won't be healthy.

In the past, AKC has allowed breeding in dalmations to pointers to help eradicate kidney disease, and Basenjis brought over from africa by Ann CLark and damara bolte, were allowed to deepen the basenji gene pool. IF IF IF a breed of similar characteristics could be found, that would not add to the growing pile of diseases, then a challenge could be done. However, I am of the mind set that poodles are not the only breed in trouble, and I cannot help but go back to my earliest experience in dog breeding, that of my own mother, who bred collies on the farm. In the late 1950's before the advance of commercial dog foods and WAY before the advance of so many vaccinations.. in fact the only vaccine our collies ever had was for rabies. Our dogs were fed what we ate.. grown on the farm pasture raised beef pork chickens and veggies that would be considered organic in this day. They drank milk straight from the cow,home made cottage cheese and buttermilk. Yard raised chicken eggs and duck eggs. And of course the occasional wild caught critter. The collies lived to be ripe old 18 to 20 year olds , still working the cows until they dropped dead. There is a lot to be said against commercial dog food and over vaccination contributing to the demise of our dogs, proof in the correlating diseases in humans with immune mediated diseases on the rise, from outside sources not from inbreeding. So, why not do some research in the TRIGGERS for the immune diseases,like the works of Dr Dodd and Dr Schultz.. I think the fact that 2 OFA excellent parents bred together CAN produce hip dysplasia, and 2 Clear SA dogs can still produce SA offspring, and Auto immune thyroid doesnt necessarily show its face in breeding age dogs, tells us it is not JUST doubling genes..there are outside factors at play. Yes we have bottle necks in all breeds of dogs and cats, and John Armstrong was way before his time..but there is way more to this story than DNA sequencing..we KNOW for a fact that GMO's came into existence a long time ago.. GMO corn was being grown here in my county in the early 70's and already in the food chain. evidenced by signs on the crops that said experimental Pioneer Plot. It really doesnt matter how many DNA tests you come up with, if we are not nurturing ourselves and our animals with biologically appropriate food and water it is all for naught anyway.
I honestly feel, that we as a planet are doomed unless the governments of the world are forced to stop experimenting on every living entity.Perhaps now would be a good time to bring out some of that frozen semen and do some testing on that DNA.

Excellent post. I read 'Pukka's Promise' and Ted Kerasote raises a lot of the same points you do regarding nutrition and vaccinations. We've screwed it up.

I second that, all relevant points. I have only ever vac puppies and not boostered. My dogs were shown and I think this helped their immunity systems because in a day they would be exposed to more "germs" than a unshown dog would probably meet in a lifetime. I had friends who were vets and even way back then they knew it was unnecessary to boost. My vets here agree too and offer blood tests to check levels. The only time my dogs have been boostered was when I had to go into hospital and they had to go to kennels who insisted on vacs. My vizla who had been tip top, started coughing within 48 hours and developed a heart murmur, a spaniel started fitting for a short period. Most of my friends who have pure and crossbreeds religiously booster every year, and their dogs are forever succumbing to some health issue or another, skin, tummies, breathing allergies. They are fed on premium dog foods but your comments on feeding are so relevant and introducing these "chemicals" into our dogs is another contributor to the poor health in so many dogs, regardless of background.

I agree with you Vickie, however, I know good, honest, reputable breeders who feed their dogs a raw diet, give only puppy shots, don't use chemical flea products, and dogs they have bought in (not bred themselves), are still coming down with AI diseases.

However, most beef and lamb in the UK, including organic, is grass-fed and then fattened on grains, and feeding grains depletes the meat of essential vitamins, minerals and fatty acids. Organic chickens, whether for eggs or meat, are fed soya-based growers/layers pellets. The difference between a commercial, organic egg, and an egg laid by pastured poultry that are not fed growers pellets is striking - the yolks from pastured poultry are naturally bright orange.

Therefore, the food we feed our dogs, even raw-fed dogs, is likely depleted of nutrients.

I would be enormously grateful if the conversation here is *not* diverted into a discussion about the perils of either vaccination or commercial dog food. There is precious little proper data to argue the toss and it always ends in tears.

" I think the fact that 2 OFA excellent parents bred together CAN produce hip dysplasia, "

This is used as an excuse for many Illnesses , why should we bother even trying if occassionally two healthy dogs produce a sick pup .
Thats like saying why bother breeding black dogs as reds turn up occasionally , lets just breed all reds!

Perhaps the "perils of either vaccination or commercial dog food" stem from the declining genetic health/diversity of our dogs. Breeders have unwittingly concentrated genetic mutations which make our dogs more susceptible to food allergies, adverse reactions to vaccines, etc. Instead of focusing upon specific diets and less vaccination we should be focusing upon healthier dogs that don't require specific diets and less preventative medication to thrive.

Could I just say chicken and egg syndrome. Are some of the AI probs in dogs because of the food i.e. growth hormones, antibiotics, crop sprays. Ironically like the damage done to dogs are all human engineered. I do have a sneaky feeling that if we were "organic" all of us including our pets, farm animals etc etc would be much healthier. But I don't let the bad breeders off the hook but in conjunction with the above everything becomes much more complicated. Sorry Jemima, I just wanted to add this caveat.

Exactly the same reason it is so frustrating to read that some pedigree dog advocates are ploughing money into developing genetic screening tests for 'diseases' that wouldn't exist if the breeding practices were sensible and sound in the first place.

If AI problems did not have a genetic component (i.e. inbreeding) then all dogs exposed to the same environment would develop the same AI problems.

The question is do we want to only focus on treating the symptom (AI problems in individual dogs) or also address the cause (declining genetic health across all breeds).

Intelligent and sensible people tend to address the root cause to ensure that the same problems don't keep re-occurring.

It's best to back up your sneaky feelings about stuff with evidence Georgina. As far as I am aware, there are no long term studies on dogs or humans on the health benefits of eating organic food.

We would certainly be healthier without drugs, vaccines and antibiotics as the sickly ones would not have got past infancy

Search the literature with these terms: inbreeding depression chemical stress
and you'll find several articles that discuss how inbreeding makes species more susceptible to environmental stresses including chemical stresses.

Genetic variation, inbreeding and chemical exposure—combined effects in wildlife and critical considerations for ecotoxicology
A. Ross Brown, David J. Hosken, François Balloux, Lisa K. Bickley, Gareth LePage, Stewart F. Owen, Malcolm J. Hetheridge and Charles R. Tyler
Phil. Trans. R. Soc. B 27 November 2009 vol. 364 no. 1534 3377-3390

"Inbreeding—matings between closely related individuals—can have negative fitness consequences for natural populations, and there is evidence of inbreeding depression in many wildlife populations. In some cases, reduced fitness in inbred populations has been shown to be exacerbated under chemical stress."

What is happening wrt to VetCompass? Are they collating data on the health of the different breeds?

If the Standard Poodle is in such trouble, despite being numerically huge, it does not bode well for other breeds. Auto-immune diseases are becoming more and more prevalent in Whippets, but many breeders still trot out the line that there are lots of Whippets and the breed is healthy.

I would be very interested to learn more about the genetic research that has been undertaken on the SP. Wereabouts can I find this?

I wish all breed councils had a Mary Jane Weir as president.

Why don't breed councils have a scientist or geneticist on board as protocol?

Actually, the lady who is the chairman of the Standard Poodle Club (the British equivalent of the PCC) is also involved in the Standard Poodle Project and provided a large number of samples to assist with research. They both seem to be very sensible people who seem to spend a lot of time leading horses to water. Diversity breeding is steadily gaining ground and we have representatives in the US, Canada, the UK, and some in Germany and France.

So, Julie, you are saying that continued breeding of mini to standard will not introduce the mini issues of PRA/PRCD, LCP and the mini seizure problems? You can control this How exactly? Who are the breeders. you said 12.. that have done these crosses, for how long,how many pups produced and lets see the testing please? I would love to see the pedigrees and pictures. I am so excited. What is the size range.

With the massive rains we have had here in the Pacific Northwest, I finally had time to sit down and read the blog as well as every single comment with great interest.
We have had six standard Poodles. Two are unhealthy (one with severe IBD, bloated and torsioned, was tacked, then bloated TEN more times, she can’t handle even one tiny piece of ANY kind of animal protein or she gets violently ill, her canines grew through the roof of her mouth and caused all kinds of issues, she has seizures and an unexplained neuropathy that has rendered her rear end nearly useless– she is now 13 1/2. She is HIGH Wycliffe). Her numbers are COI 10 - 22.5%, COI 15 - 30.1%, Wycliffe -68.45. She has littermates and half siblings with SA, AD, HD, same bite and more.
The other unhealthy Poodle we have of the six is out of a mini/standard bitch and she was sired by a standard Poodle. She has Legg-Perthes, chronic pancreatitis, retinal dysplasia and severe allergies (food, grasses, dust, mold, human dander, etc.). Her COI is not low (9% for 15 generations – 5.7% for 10 generations). Even with her issues, I would not hesitate to get another mini/standard cross but would do a lot more research on the mini before doing so! It is not enough to use a different variety, one MUST do major research before introducing that variety. There will always be risks no matter what breeders do. Breeding is not for the faint of heart! I applaud their bravery in trying new things to help the breeds!
We have three standards that are so far (knock wood!), extremely healthy and cast iron in what they can eat. One is a 1:1 with a COI 10 -15.9%, COI 15 - 22.9%, Wycliffe- 54.81. She can eat anything! She is 11 now and had her first litter at 7. The litter had 9 puppies but one was stuck in the birth canal and died. The bitch had to have a C-section. Her puppies are 4 now and so far all healthy. Only time will tell, but so far they are healthy. Their sire has a diverse pedigree COI 10 - 4.3%, COI 15 - 8.5%, Wycliffe = 39.42 and the parent of a 4:4 (not sure what his DLA is). The four year old puppies from these two are COI 10 - 4.0%, COI 15 - 10.7, Wycliffe - 47.12. There are healthy dogs with high COI and Wycliffe and unhealthy dogs with low COI and Wycliffe. We need to look at the big picture.
I think what breeders are trying to do regarding the improvement of health is fabulous. I think we need to look at breed standards to see which breeds have the fewest restrictions and how healthy those breeds are. When I was breeding dogs back in the 1970s, Greyhounds, Whippets, Salukis and other breeds with few restrictions, were very healthy. I always felt that the more standards restrict colors, the fewer choices we have, structurally and immune wise. It is so silly to restrict color in dogs! Dogs should be chosen on merit of health, structure, temperament and performance, not color. Breeding for color (red to red, brown to brown, black to black, etc.) will only limit choices further.
I would like to add that health is not the only thing that threatens purebred dogs today. The structure of most top winning Poodles (as well as other breeds) is horrible. These dogs do not even resemble the original dogs of their breeds. I recently looked at a number of Poodles in the breed ring from the Regional and I was shocked at what I saw! Everyone is so worried about fronts, but their rears were absurd! Poodles have become caricatures of their former selves in the name of “type.” It is not enough to preserve the health (although that is the most important!), breeders MUST try to get back to the Poodle as it should be, not those ridiculously built coat racks in the show ring we see today. The croups are miniscule and that shelf that sticks out behind those dogs is getting worse and worse! Pelvises are shorter than ever, but it is the front that fools people on movement. The greatest front on the planet means nothing if the dog has no engine behind! Sorry, I could go on forever about this.
Thank you for these discussions.

So true Helen.. if a poodle cannot swim and pick up a duck it no longer represents the reason the breed exists in the first place.


The Pigeon as a Source of Food:

Ancient Dove Houses,
Cappadocia Turkey

Early Clay Pigeon
Breeding Pots

Dovecote in Karanis Egypt AD 65

Although little is known of the domestication of the pigeon in China, an excavation of a tomb at Chang-Chou, near Honan, dating back to the 1st century AD found pigeon lofts built into towers around a central courtyard. This appears to confirm that pigeons were domesticated over two thousand years ago in China and used either for food or for sacrifice, or possibly as messengers. In the same century, the Roman writer Varro, who wrote extensively about animal husbandry, described the domestic pigeon in some detail and the types of buildings in which they were housed. His description of the interiors of the lofts or dovecotes are quite detailed, describing the ledges upon which the birds roosted and bred as well as the smooth surfaces around flight holes designed to deny access to predators. He also confirmed that pigeon cotes were numerous, with some housing as many as 5000 birds. Pigeons were also mentioned in cookery books written by the Roman gourmet Apicius, dating back to the 1st century AD, confirming that the birds were considered to be a delicacy. The pigeon was also consumed both as a delicacy and as a part of the staple diet in Medieval England (post 5th century).

The earliest remains of dovecotes found in Britain date back to the 12th century, with one early example uncovered during an archaeological excavation in Raunds, Northamptonshire. A number of these early ‘rubblestone’ dovecotes, dating back to the 12th and 13th centuries, have been uncovered throughout southern England in recent years and with quite a significant geographical spread,

Garway Dovecote,
1326 - Exterior

Luntley Court 15th-16th
Century Dovecote

In 16th century England, pigeon production for meat became commercial, with some pigeon farms housing anything up to 30,000 birds. The wide popularity of pigeon meat resulted in the bird becoming part of the daily diet rather than being considered only as a delicacy. In the main it was the squab (pigeon chick) that was consumed, with young birds being killed at approximately 4 weeks old for the table. Although most ancient dovecotes are believed to be round in shape, the 17th century saw rectangular and octagonal dovecotes being built, some with incredibly intricate designs and housing many thousands of birds. The interior of a dovecote is usually a large open space with the breeding cubicles or ledges in rows around the internal walls.

Although pigeons were farmed in the main for meat, their by-products were also in great demand. This was particularly the case in the 16th century when pigeon excrement was found to contain saltpetre, a substance used in the manufacture of gunpowder. As a result, pigeon excrement became even more widely prized than pigeon meat. In some cases, armed guards were posted outside dovecotes to stop thieves stealing pigeon excrement. Production of saltpetre from pigeon excrement ended in the late 18th century when saltpetre was

Restored 17th
Century Dovecote

In the 19th century the rearing of pigeons for meat fell into decline, which continued into the 20th century. However, during the First World War the American government encouraged people to breed pigeon squabs for meat, telling them:

Interior of Minster
Lovell Hall Dovecote

In Britain, pigeon farming died out in the early part of the 20th century and there has been little interest since other than a mild resurgence of interest between the two Great Wars and later in 1971 where pigeons were bred for meat in Kent. Ironically, the pigeon is now wrongly perceived as a disease carrier, in the main as a result of commercial propaganda pumped out by the pest control industry, with America being the source of a majority of this misinformation. However, it was less than 100 years ago when Americans were told that there is 'nothing better to eat' than the pigeon, confirming absolutely the myth that the pigeon is a disease carrier.


The weeds shall inherit the Earth

We are presiding over one of the great mass extinctions of recorded time, writes David Quammen. 150 years from now, more than half of the world's species are likely to have been wiped out. Eventually, the only survivors will be the versatile and aggressive, the 'superweeds' such as cats, rats, cockroaches - and humans

HOPE IS A DUTY from which palaeontologists are exempt. Their job is to take the long view, the cold and stony view, of triumphs and catastrophes in the history of life. They study the fossil record, that erratic selection of petrified shells, carapaces, bones, teeth, tree trunks, leaves, pollen, and other biological relics, and from it they attempt to discern the lost secrets of time, the big patterns of stasis and change, the trends of innovation and adaptation and refinement and decline that have blown like sea winds among ancient creatures in ancient ecosystems. Although life is their subject, death and burial supply all their data. They're the coroners of biology. This gives to palaeontologists a certain distance, a perspective beyond the reach of anxiety over outcomes of the struggles they chronicle. If hope is the thing with feathers, as Emily Dickinson said, then it's good to remember that feathers don't fossilise well. In lieu of hope and despair, palaeontologists have a highly developed sense of cyclicity. That's why I recently went to Chicago, with a handful of urgently grim questions, and called on a palaeontologist named David Jablonski. I wanted answers unvarnished with obligatory hope.

Jablonski is a big-pattern man, a macroevolutionist, who works fastidiously from the particular to the very broad. He's an expert on the morphology and distribution of marine bivalves and gastropods - or clams and snails, as he calls them when speaking casually. He sifts through the record of those mollusk lineages, preserved in rock and later harvested into museum drawers, to extract ideas about origins. His attention roams back through 600 million years of time. His special skill involves framing large, resonant questions that can be answered with small, lithified clamshells. For instance: by what combinations of causal factor and sheer chance have the great evolutionary innovations arisen? How quickly have those innovations taken hold? How long have they abided?

He's also interested in extinction, the yang to evolution's yin. Why do some species survive for a long time, he wonders, whereas others die out much sooner? And why has the rate of extinction - low throughout most of Earth's history - spiked upward cataclysmically on just a few occasions? How do those cataclysmic episodes, known in the trade as mass extinctions, differ in kind and in degree from the gradual process of species extinction during the millions of years in between? Can what struck in the past strike again?

The concept of mass extinction implies a biological crisis that spanned large parts of the planet and, in a relatively short time, eradicated a sizeable number of species from a variety of groups. There's no absolute threshold or magnitude, and dozens of different episodes in geologic history might qualify, but five big ones stand out: Ordovician, Devonian, Permian, Triassic, Cretaceous. The Ordovician extinction, 439 million years ago, entailed the disappearance of roughly 85 per cent of marine animal species - and that was before there were any animals on land. The Devonian extinction, 367 million years ago, seems to have been almost as severe. About 245 million years ago came the Permian extinction, the worst ever, claiming 95 per cent of all known animal species and therefore almost wiping out the animal kingdom altogether. The Triassic, 208 million years ago, was bad again, though not nearly as bad as the Permian.

The most recent was the Cretaceous extinction (sometimes called the K-T event because it defines the boundary between two geologic periods, with K for Cretaceous, never mind why, and T for Tertiary), familiar even to schoolchildren because it ended the age of dinosaurs. Less familiarly, the K-T event also brought extinction of the marine reptiles and the ammonites, as well as major losses of species among fish, mammals, amphibians, sea urchins, and other groups, totalling 76 per cent of all species.

In between these five episodes occurred some lesser mass extinctions, and throughout the intervening lulls extinction continued, too - but at a much slower pace, known as the background rate, claiming only about one species in any major group every million years. At the background rate, extinction is infrequent enough to be counterbalanced by the evolution of new species. Each of the five major episodes, in contrast, represents a drastic net loss of species diversity, a deep trough of biological impoverishment from which Earth only slowly recovered. How slowly? How long is the lag between a nadir of impoverishment and a recovery to ecological fullness? That's another of Jablonski's research interests. His rough estimates run to 5 or 10 million years. What drew me to this man's work, and then to his doorstep, were his special competence on mass extinctions, and his willingness to discuss the notion that a sixth one is in progress now.

Some people will tell you that we as a species, Homo sapiens, the savvy ape, all 5.9 billion of us in our collective impact, are destroying the world. Me, I won't tell you that, because "the world" is so vague, whereas what we are or aren't destroying is quite specific. Some people will tell you that we are rampaging suicidally toward a degree of global wreckage that will result in our own extinction. I won't tell you that either. Some people say that the environment will be the paramount political and social concern of the 21st century, but what they mean by "the environment" is anyone's guess. Polluted air? Polluted water? Acid rain? A frayed skein of ozone over Antarctica? Greenhouse gases emitted by smokestacks and cars? Toxic wastes? None of these concerns is the big one, palaeontological in scope, though some are more closely entangled with it than others. If the world's air is clean for humans to breathe but supports no birds or butterflies, if the world's waters are pure for humans to drink but contain no fish or crus-taceans or diatoms, have we solved our environmental problems? Well, I suppose so, at least as environmentalism is commonly construed. That clumsy, confused, and presumptuous formulation "the environment" implies viewing air, water, soil, forests, rivers, swamps, deserts and oceans as merely a milieu within which something important is set: human life, human history. But what's at issue, in fact, is not an environment it's a living world.

Here instead is what I'd like to tell you: the consensus among conscientious biologists is that we're headed into another mass extinction, a vale of biological impoverishment on the same scale as the big five. Many experts remain hopeful that we can brake that descent, but my own view is that we're likely to go all the way down. I visited David Jablonski to ask what we might see at the bottom.

On a hot summer morning, Jablonski is busy in his office on the second floor of the Hinds Geophysical Laboratory at the University of Chicago. It's a large open room furnished with tall bookshelves, tables piled high with books, knee-high stacks of paper. The walls are mostly bare, aside from a chart of the geologic time scale, a clipped cartoon of dancing tyrannosaurs in red sneakers, and a poster from a Rodin exhibition, quietly appropriate to the overall theme of eloquent stone.

Jablonski is a lean 45-year-old man with a dark, full beard. Educated at Columbia and Yale, he came to Chicago in 1985 and has helped make its palaeontology programme perhaps the best in the United States. Although in a few hours he'll be leaving on a trip to Alaska, he has been cordial in agreeing to this chat. Stepping carefully, we move among the piled journals, reprints, and photocopies. Every pile represents a different research question, he tells me. "I juggle a lot of these things all at once because they feed into one another." That's exactly why I've come: for a little rigorous intellectual synergy.

Let's talk about mass extinctions, I say. When did someone first realise that the concept might apply not only to the Permian or the Cretaceous periods but also to current events?

He begins sorting through memory, back to the early Seventies, when the full scope of the current extinction problem was barely recognised. Before then, some writers warned about "vanishing wildlife" and "endangered species", but generally the warnings were framed around individual species with popular appeal, such as the whooping crane, the tiger, the blue whale, the peregrine falcon. During the Seventies a new form of concern broke forth - call it wholesale concern - from the awareness that unnumbered millions of narrowly endemic (that is, unique and localised) species inhabit the tropical forests and that those forests were quickly being cut. In 1976, a Nairobi-based biologist named Norman Myers published a paper in Science on that subject in passing, he also compared current extinctions with the rate during what he loosely termed "the 'great dying' of the dinosaurs".

David Jablonski, then a graduate student, read Myers's paper and tucked a copy into his files. This was the first time, Jablonski recalls, that anyone tried to quantify the rate of present-day extinctions. "Norman was a pretty lonely guy, for a long time, on that," he says. In 1979, Myers published The Sinking Ark, explaining the problem and offering some rough projections. Between the years 1600 and 1900, by his tally, humanity had caused the extinction of about 75 known species, almost all of them mammals and birds. Between 1900 and 1979, humans had extinguished about another 75 known species, a rate of loss well above that of the Cretaceous extinction. But even more worrying was the inferable rate of unrecorded extinctions, recent and impending, among plants and animals still unidentified by science. Myers guessed that 25,000 plant species presently stood jeopardised, and maybe hundreds of thousands of insects. "By the time human communities establish ecologically sound lifestyles, the fallout of species could total several million." Rereading that sentence now, I'm struck by the reckless optimism of his assumption that human communities eventually will establish "ecologically sound lifestyles".

Although this early attempt to quantify helped to galvanise public concern, it also became a tar- get for a handful of critics, who used the inexactitude of the numbers to cast doubt on the reality of the problem. Most conspicuous of the naysayers was Julian Simon, an economist at the University of Maryland, who argued bullishly that human resourcefulness would solve all problems worth solving, of which a decline in the diversity of tropical insects wasn't one.

In a 1986 issue of New Scientist, Simon rebuffed Norman Myers, arguing from his own interpretationof select data that there was "no obvious recent downward trend in world forests - no obvious 'losses' at all, and certainly no 'near catastrophic' loss." He later co-authored an op-ed piece in the New York Times under the headline, "Facts, Not Species, Are Periled." Again he went after Myers, asserting a "complete absence of evidence for the claim that the extinction of species is going up rapidly - or even going up at all".

Simon's worst disservice to logic in that statement and others was to deny that inferential evidence of wholesale extinction counts for anything. Of inferential evidence there was an abundance - for example, from the Centinela Ridge in a cloud-forest zone of western Ecuador, where in 1978 the botanist Alwyn Gentry and a colleague found 38 species of narrowly endemic plants, including several with mysteriously black leaves. Before Gentry could get back, Centinela Ridge had been completely deforested, the native plants replaced by cacao and other crops. As for infer- ential evidence generally, we might do well to remember that approximately 105,000 Japanese civilians died in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. The city's population fell abruptly on 6 August 1945 but there was no one-by-one identification of 105,000 bodies.

Nowadays, a few younger writers have taken Simon's line, pooh-poohing the concern over extinction. As for Simon himself, who died earlier this year, perhaps the truest sentence he left behind was this: "We must also try to get more reliable information about the number of species that might be lost with various changes in the forests." No one could argue.

But it isn't easy to get such information. Field biologists tend to avoid investing their precious research time in doomed tracts of forest. Beyond that, our culture offers little institutional support for the study of narrowly endemic species in order to register their existence before their habitats are destroyed. Despite these obstacles, recent efforts to quantify rates of extinction have supplanted the old warnings. These new estimates use satellite pictures and improved on-the-ground data about deforestation, records of the many human-caused extinctions on islands, and a branch of ecological theory called island biogeography, which connects documented island cases with the mainland problem of forest fragmentation. These efforts differ in particulars, reflecting how much un- certainty is still involved, but their varied tones form a chorus of agreement. I'll mention three of the most credible.

WV Reid, of the World Resources Institute, in 1992 gathered numbers on the average annual deforestation in each of 63 tropical countries during the Eighties and from them charted three different scenarios (low, middle, high) of presumable forest loss by the year 2040. He chose a standard mathematical model of the relationship between decreasing habitat area and decreasing diversity of species, based on conservative assumptions, and ran his various deforestation estimates through the model.

Reid's calculations suggest that by the year 2040 between 17 and 35 per cent of tropical forest species will be extinct or doomed to extinction. Either at the high or the low end of this range, it would amount to a bad loss, though not as bad as the K-T event. Then again, 2040 won't mark the end of human pressures on biological diversity or landscape.

Robert M May, an ecologist at Oxford, co-authored a similar effort in 1995. May and his colleagues noted the five causal factors that account for most extinctions: habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, overkill, invasive species, and secondary effects from other extinctions cascading through an ecosystem. Each of those five is more intricate than it sounds. For instance, habitat fragmentation dooms species by consigning them to small, island-like parcels of habitat surrounded by an ocean of human impact, and by then subjecting them to the same jeopardies (small population size, acted upon by environmental fluctuation, catastrophe, inbreeding, bad luck, and cascading effects) that make island species especially vulnerable to extinction. May's team concluded that most extant bird and mammal species can expect average life spans of between 200 and 400 years. That's equivalent to saying that about a third of one per cent will go extinct each year until some unimaginable end point is reached. "Much of the diversity we inherited," May and his co-authors wrote, "will be gone before humanity sorts itself out."

The most recent estimate comes from Stuart L Pimm and Thomas M Brooks, ecologists at the University of Tennessee. Using a combination of published data on bird species lost from forest figments and field data gathered themselves, Pimm and Brooks concluded that 50 per cent of the world's forest-bird species will be doomed to extinction by deforestation occurring over the next half-century. And birds won't be the sole victims. "How many species will be lost if current trends continue?" the two scientists asked. "Somewhere between one third and two thirds of all species - easily making this event as large as the previous five mass extinctions the planet has experienced."

Jablonski, who started down this line of thought in 1978, offers me a reminder about the conceptual machinery behind such estimates. "All mathematical models," he says cheerily, "are wrong. They are approximations. And the question is: are they usefully wrong, or are they meaninglessly wrong?"

Models projecting present and future species loss are useful, he suggests, if they help people realise that Homo sapiens is perturbing Earth's biosphere to a degree it hasn't often been perturbed before. In other words, that this is a drastic experiment in biological drawdown we're engaged in, not a continuation of routine.

Behind the projections of species loss lurk a number of crucial but hard- to-plot variables, among which two are especially weighty: continuing landscape conversion and the growth curve of the human population.

Landscape conversion can mean many things: draining wetlands to build roads and airports, turning tallgrass prairies under the plough, fencing savannah and overgrazing it with domestic stock, cutting second-growth forest in Vermont and consigning the land to ski resorts or vacation suburbs, slash-and-burn clearing of Madagascar's rainforest to grow rice on wet hillsides, industrial logging in Borneo to meet Japanese plywood demands.

Among all forms of landscape conversion, pushing tropical forest from the wildlands category to the intensively used category has the greatest impact on biological diversity. You can see it in western India, where a spectacular deciduous ecosystem known as the Gir forest (home to the last surviving population of the Asiatic lion, Panthera leo persica) is yielding along its ragged edges to new mango orchards, peanut fields, and lime quarries for cement.

You can see it in the central Amazon, where huge tracts of rainforest have been felled and burned, in a largely futile attempt (encouraged by misguided government incentives, now revoked) to pasture cattle on sun- hardened clay. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, the rate of deforestation in tropical countries has increased (contrary to Julian Simon's claim) since the Seventies, when Myers made his estimates. During the Eighties, as the FAC reported in 1993, that rate reached 15.4 million hectares (a hectare being the metric equivalent of 2.5 acres) annually. By the middle of the next century, if those trends continue, tropical forest will exist virtually nowhere outside protected areas - that is, national parks, wildlife refuges and other official reserves.

How many protected areas will there be? The present worldwide total is about 9,800, which encompasses 6.3 per cent of the planet's land area. Will those parks and reserves retain their full biological diversity? No. Species with large territorial needs will be unable to maintain viable population levels within small reserves, and as those species die away, their absence will affect others. The dis- appearance of big predators, for instance, can release limits on medium-size predators and scavengers, whose overabundance can drive yet more species (such as ground-nesting birds) to extinction. This has already happened in some habitat fragments, such as Panama's Barro Colorado Island, and been well-documented in the literature of island biogeography. The lesson of fragmented habitats is Yeatsian: things fall apart.

Human population growth will make a bad situation worse by putting ever more pressure on all available land. Population growth rates have declined in many countries within the past several decades, it's true. But world population is still increasing, and even if average fertility suddenly, magically, dropped to 2.0 children per female, population would continue to increase (on the momentum of birth rate exceeding death rate among a generally younger and healthier populace) for some time. The annual increase is now 80 million people, with most of that increase occurring in less-developed countries.

According to the United Nations' middle estimate, in 2150 the total population of the countries within Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia - most of which are in the low latitudes, many of which are less developed, and which together encompass a large portion of Earth's remaining tropical forest - will be more than twice what it is today. An estimated 9.7 billion people, crowded together in hot places, will constitute 90 per cent of humanity. Anyone interested in the future of biological diversity needs to think about the pressures these people will face, and the pressures they will exert in return.

According to a recent World Bank estimate, about 30 per cent of the total population of less-developed countries lives in poverty. Alan Durning, in his 1992 book, How Much Is Enough? The Consumer Society and the Fate of the Earth, puts it in a broader perspective when he says that the world's human population is divided among three "ecological classes", the consumers, the middle income and the poor. His consumer class includes those 1.1 billion fortunate people whose annual income per family member is more than $7,500. At the other extreme, the world's poor also number about 1.1 billion people - all from households with less than $700 annually per member.

"They are mostly rural Africans, Indians, and other South Asians," Durning writes. "They eat almost exclusively grains, root crops, beans, and other legumes, and they drink mostly unclean water. They live in huts and shanties, they travel by foot, and most of their possessions are constructed of stone, wood, and other substances available from the local environment."

He calls them the "absolute poor". It's only reasonable to assume that another billion people will be added to that class, mostly in what are now the less-developed countries, before population growth stabilises. How will that additional billion, deprived of education and other advantages, interact with the tropical landscape? Not, presumably, by entering information-intensive jobs in the service sector of the new global economy. Julian Simon argued that human ingenuity - and, by extension, human population itself - is "the ultimate resource" for solving Earth's problems, transcending Earth's limits, and turning scarcity into abundance. But if all the bright ideas generated by a human population of 5.9 billion haven't yet relieved the desperate needs of 1.1 billion absolute poor, why should we expect that human ingenuity will do any better for roughly two billion poor in the future?

Other writers besides Durning have warned about this deepening class rift. Tom Athanasiou, in Divided Planet: The Ecology of Rich and Poor, sees population growth only exacerbating the division, and notes that governments often promote destructive schemes of transmigration and rainforest colonisation as safety valves for the pressures of land hunger and discontent. A young Canadian policy analyst named Thomas F Homer-Dixon, author of several calm-voiced but frightening articles on the link between what he terms "environmental scarcity" and global socio-political instability, reports that the amount of cropland available per person is falling in the less-developed countries because of population growth and because millions of hectares "are being lost each year to a combination of problems, including encroachment by cities, erosion, depletion of nutrients, acidification, compacting and salinisation and waterlogging from over-irrigation". Homer-Dixon foresees potential for "a widening gap" of two sorts - between demands on the state and its ability to deliver, and more fundamentally between rich and poor.

In conversation with the journalist Robert D Kaplan, as quoted in Kaplan's book The Ends of the Earth, Homer-Dixon said it more vividly: "Think of a stretch limo in the potholed streets of New York City, where homeless beggars live. Inside the limo are the air-conditioned post-industrial regions of North America, Europe, the emerging Pacific Rim, and a few other isolated places, with their trade summitry and computer information highways. Outside is the rest of mankind, going in a completely different direction."

That direction, necessarily, will be towards the ever more desperate exploitation of landscape. When you think of Homer-Dixon's stretch limo on those potholed urban streets, don't assume there will be room inside for tropical forests. Even Noah's ark managed to rescue only paired animals, not large parcels of habitat. The jeopardy of the ecological fragments that we presently cherish as parks, refuges and reserves is already severe, due to both internal and external forces: internal, because insularity itself leads to ecological unravelling and external, because those areas are still under siege by needy and covetous people.

Projected forward into a future of 10.8 billion humans, of whom perhaps two billion are starving at the periphery of those areas, while another two billion are living in a fool's paradise maintained by unremitting exploitation of whatever resources remain, that jeopardy increases to the point of impossibility. In addition, any form of climate change in the mid-term future, whether caused by greenhouse gases or by a natural flip-flop of climatic forces, is liable to change habitat conditions within a given protected area beyond the tolerance range for many species. If such creatures can't migrate beyond the park or reserve boundaries in order to chase their habitat needs, they may be "protected" from guns and chainsaws within their little island, but they'll still die.

We shouldn't take comfort in assuming that at least Yellowstone National Park will still harbour grizzly bears in the year 2150, that at least Royal Chitwan in Nepal will still harbour tigers, that at least Serengeti in Tanzania and Gir in India will still harbour lions. Those predator populations, and other species down the cascade, are likely to dis-appear. "Wildness" will be a word applicable only to urban turmoil. Lions, tigers, and bears will exist only in zoos. Nature won't come to an end, but it will look very different.

The most obvious differences will be those I've already mentioned: tropical forests and other terrestrial ecosystems will be drastically reduced in area, and the fragmented remnants will stand tiny and isolated. Because of those two factors, plus the cascading secondary effects, plus an additional dire factor, which I'll mention in a moment, much of Earth's biological diversity will be gone. How much? That's impossible to predict confidently, but the careful guesses of Robert May, Stuart Pimm and other biologists suggest losses reaching half to two-thirds of all species. In the oceans, deep-water fish and shellfish populations will be drastically depleted by over-harvesting, if not to the point of extinction then at least enough to cause more cascading consequences. Coral reefs and other shallow-water ecosystems will be badly stressed, if not devastated, by erosion and chemical run-off from the land. The additional dire factor is invasive species, the last of the five factors contributing to our current experiment in mass extinction.

That factor, even more than destruction and fragmentation of habitat, is a symptom of modernity. Maybe you haven't heard much about invasive species, but in coming years you will. The ecologist Daniel Simberloff takes it so seriously that he recently committed himself to founding an institute on invasive biology at the University of Tennessee, and the American Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt sounded the alarm last April in a speech to a weed-management symposium in Denver. The spectacle of a cabinet secretary denouncing an alien plant called purple loosestrife struck some observers as droll, but it wasn't as silly as it seemed. Forty years ago, the British ecologist Charles Elton warned prophetically, in a little book titled The Ecology of Invasions by Animals and Plants, that "we are living in a period of the world's history when the mingling of thousands of kinds of organisms from different parts of the world is setting up terrific dislocations in nature". Elton's word "dislocation" was nicely chosen to ring with a double meaning: species are being moved from one location to another and, as a result, ecosystems are being thrown into disorder.

The problem dates back to when people began using ingenious new modes of conveyance (the horse, the camel, the canoe) to travel quickly across mountains, desert, and oceans, bringing with them rats, lice, disease microbes, burrs, dogs, pigs, goats, cats, cows and other forms of parasitic, commensal or domesticated creature. One immediate result of those travels was a wave of island-bird extinctions, claiming more than a thousand species, that followed ocean-going canoes across the Pacific and elsewhere. Having evolved in insular ecosystems free of predators, many of those species were flightless, unequipped to defend themselves or their eggs against ravenous mammals. Raphus cucullatus, a giant cousin of the pigeon, endemic to Mauritius in the Indian Ocean, and better known as the dodo, was only the most easily caricatured representative of this much larger pattern. Dutch sailors killed and ate dodos during the 17th century, but probably what guaranteed the extinction of Raphus cucullatus is that the European ships put ashore rats, pigs and Macaca fascicularis, an opportunistic species of Asian monkey. Although commonly known as the crab-eating macaque, M fascicularis will eat almost anything. The monkeys are still pestilential on Mauritius, hungry and daring and always ready to eat anything they can, including raw eggs. But the dodo hasn't been seen since 1662.

The European age of discovery and conquest was also the great age of biogeography - that is, the study of what creatures live where, a branch of biology practiced by attentive travellers such as Carolus Linnaeus, Alexander von Humboldt, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace. Darwin and Wallace even made biogeography the basis of their discovery that species, rather than being created and plopped on to Earth by divine magic, evolved in particular locales by the process of natural selection. Ironically, the same trend of far-flung human travel that gave biogeographers their data also began to muddle and nullify that data, by transplanting the most ready and roguish species to new places and thereby delivering death to many other species.

Rats and cats went everywhere, causing havoc in what for millions of years had been sheltered, less competitive ecosystems. The Asiatic chestnut blight and the European starling came to America the American muskrat and the Chinese mitten crab arrived in Europe. Sometimes these human-mediated transfers were unintentional, sometimes merely shortsighted. Nostalgic sportsmen in New Zealand imported British red deer European brown trout and Coastal rainbows were planted with disregard to the native cutthroats of Rocky Mountain rivers. Prickly-pear cactus rabbits, and cane toads were inadvisedly welcomed to Australia. Goats went wild in the Galapagos. The bacterium that causes bubonic plague journeyed from China to California by way of a flea, a rat and a ship. The Atlantic sea lamprey found its own way up into Lake Erie, but only after the Welland Canal gave it a bypass around Niagara Falls.

Unintentional or not, all these transfers had unforeseen consequences, which in many cases included the extinction of less competitive, less opportunistic native species. The rosy wolf snail, a small creature introduced to Oahu for the purpose of controlling a larger and more obviously damaging species of snail, which was itself invasive, proved to be a medicine worse than the disease it became a fearsome predator upon native snails, of which 20 species are now gone. The Nile perch, a big predatory fish introduced into Lake Victoria in 1962 because it promised good eating, seems to have exterminated at least 80 species of smaller cichlid fishes native to the lake's Mwanza Gulf.

The problem is vastly amplified by modern shipping and air transport, which are quick and capacious enough to allow many more kinds of organism to get themselves transplanted into habitats they never could have reached on their own. The brown tree snake, having stowed away aboard military planes from the New Guinea region near the end of the Second World War, has eaten most of the native forest birds of Guam. Hanta virus, first identified in Korea, burbles quietly in the deer mice of Arizona. Ebola will appear who knows where next. Apart from the frightening epidemiological possibilities, agricultural damages are the most conspicuous form of impact.

One study, by the congressional Office of Technology Assessment, reports that in the United States 4,500 non-native species have established free-living populations, of which about 15 per cent cause severe harm looking at just 79 of those species, the OTA documented $97 billion in damages. The lost value in Hawaiian snail species or cichlid diversity is harder to measure. But another report, from the UN Environmental Program, declares that almost 20 per cent of the world's endangered vertebrates suffer from pressures (competition, predation, habitat transformation) created by exotic interlopers. Michael Soule, a biologist much respected for his work on landscape conversion and extinction, has said that invasive species may soon surpass habitat loss and fragmentation as the major cause of "ecological disintegration". Having exterminated Guam's avifauna, the brown tree snake has now been spotted in Hawaii.

Is there a larger pattern to these invasions? What do fire ants, zebra mussels, Asian gypsy moths, tamarisk trees, maleleuca trees, kudzu, Mediterranean fruit flies, boll weevils and water hyacinths have in common with crab- eating macaques or Nile perch? Answer: they're weedy species, in the sense that animals as well as plants can be weedy. What that implies is a constellation of characteristics: they reproduce quickly, disperse widely when given a chance, tolerate a fairly broad range of habitat conditions, take hold in strange places, succeed especially in disturbed ecosystems, and resist eradication once they're established. They are scrappers, generalists, opportunists. They tend to thrive in human-dominated terrain because in crucial ways they resemble Homo sapiens: aggressive, versatile, prolific, and ready to travel.

The city pigeon, a cosmopolitan creature descended from wild ancestry as a Eurasian rock dove (Columba livia) by way of centuries of pigeon fanciers whose coop-bred birds occasionally went AWOL, is a weed. So are those species that, benefiting from human impacts upon landscape, have increased grossly in abundance or expanded their geographical scope without having to cross an ocean by plane or by boat - for instance, the coyote in New York, the raccoon in Montana, the white-tailed deer in northern Wisconsin or western Connecticut. The brown-headed cowbird, also weedy, has extended its range from the eastern United States into the agricultural Midwest at the expense of migratory songbirds. In gardening usage the word "weed" may be utterly subjective, indicating any plant you don't happen to like, but in ecological usage it has these firmer meanings. Biologists frequently talk of weedy species, meaning animals as well as plants.

Palaeontologists, too, embrace the idea and even the term. Jablonski himself, in a 1991 paper published in Science, extrapolated from past mass extinctions to our current one and suggested that human activities are likely to rake their heaviest toll on narrowly endemic species, while causing fewer extinctions among those species that are broadly adapted and broadly distributed. "In the face of ongoing habitat alteration and fragmentation," he wrote, "this implies a biota increasingly enriched in widespread, weedy species - rats, ragweed and cockroaches - relative to the larger number of species that are more vulnerable and potentially more useful to humans as food, medicines and genetic resources."

Now, as we sit in his office, he repeats, "It's just a question of how much the world becomes enriched in these weedy species." Both in print and in conversation he uses "enriched" somewhat caustically, knowing that the actual direction is towards impoverishment.

Regarding impoverishment, let's note another dark, interesting irony that the two converse trends I've described - partitioning the world's landscape by habitat fragmentation and unifying the world's landscape by global transport of weedy species - produce not converse results but one redoubled result, the further loss of biological diversity. Immersing myself in the literature on extinctions, and making dilettantish excursions across India, Madagascar, New Guinea, Indonesia, Brazil, Guam, Australia, New Zealand, Wyoming, the hills of Burbank and other semi-wild places over the past decade, I've seen those redoubling trends everywhere, portending a near-term future in which Earth's landscape is threadbare, leached of diversity, heavy with humans, and "enriched" in weedy species.

That's an ugly vision, but I find it vivid. Wildlife will consist of the pigeons and the coyotes and the white-tails, the black rats (Rattus rattus) and the brown rats (Rattus norvegicus) and a few other species of worldly rodent, the crab-eating macaques and the cockroaches (though, as with the rats, not every species - some are narrowly endemic, like the giant Madagascar hissing cockroach) and the mongooses, the house sparrows and the house geckos and the houseflies and the barn cats and the skinny brown feral dogs and a short list of additional species that play by our rules. Forests will be tiny insular patches existing on bare sufferance, much of their biological diversity (the big predators, the migratory birds, the shy creatures that can't tolerate edges and many other species linked inextricably with those) long since decayed away. They'll essentially be tall woody gardens, not forests in the richer sense. Elsewhere, the landscape will have its strips and swatches of green but, except on much-poisoned lawns and golf courses, the foliage will be infested with cheat-grass and European buckthorn and spotted knapweed and Russian thistle and leafy spurge and salt meadow cordgrass and Bruce Babbitt's purple loosestrife.

Having recently passed the great age of biogeography, we will have tested the age after biogeography, in that virtually everything will live virtually everywhere, though the list of species that constitute "everything" will be small. I see this world implicitly foretold in the UN population projections, the FAO reports on deforestation, the northward advance into Texas of Africanised honeybees, the rhesus monkeys that swarm over the parapets of public buildings in New Delhi and every fat grey squirrel on a bird feeder in England. Earth will be a different sort of place soon, in just five or six human generations. My label for that place, that time, that apparently unavoidable prospect, is the Planet of Weeds. Its only redeeming feature, as far as I can imagine, is that there will be no shortage of crows.

Now we come to the question of human survival, a matter of some interest to many. We come to a certain fretful leap of logic that otherwise thoughtful observers seem willing, even eager, to make: that the ultimate consequence will be our extinction. By seizing such a huge share of Earth's landscape, by imposing so wantonly on its providence and presuming so recklessly on its forgiveness, by killing off so many species, they say, we will doom our own species to extinction. This is a commonplace among the environmentally exercised. My quibbles with the idea are that it seems ecologically improbable and too optimistic. But it bears scrutiny, because it's frequently offered as the ultimate argument against proceeding as we are.

Jablonski also has his doubts. Do you see Homo sapiens as likely survivor, I ask him, or as a casualty? "Oh, we've got to be one of the most bomb-proof species on the planet." he says. "We're geographically widespread, we have a pretty remarkable reproductive rate, we're incredibly good at co-opting and monopolising resources. I think it would take a really serious, concerted effort to wipe out the human species."

The point he's making is one that has probably already dawned on you. Homo sapiens itself is the ultimate weed. Why shouldn't we survive, then, on the Planet of Weeds? But there's a wide range of possible circumstances, Jablonski reminds me, between the extinction of our species and the continued growth of human population, consumption and comfort.

"I think we'll be one of the survivors," he says, "sort of picking through the rubble." Besides losing all the pharmaceutical and genetic resources that lay hidden within those extinguished species, and all the spiritual and aesthetic values they offered, he foresees unpredictable levels of loss in many physical and biochemical functions that ordinarily come as benefits from diverse, robust ecosystems - functions such as cleaning and re-circulating air and water, mitigating droughts and floods, decomposing wastes, controlling erosion, creating new soil, pollinating crops, capturing and transporting nutrients, damping short-term temperature extremes and longer-term fluctuations of climate, restraining outbreaks of pestiferous species and shielding Earth's surface from the full brunt of ultraviolet radiation. Strip away the ecosystems that perform those services, Jablonski says, and you can expect grievous damage to the world we inhabit.

"A lot of things are going to happen that will make this a crummier place to live - a more stressful place to live, a more difficult place to live, a less resilient place to live, before the human species is at any risk at all." And maybe some of the new difficulties, he adds, will serve as an incentive to major changes in the trajectory along which we pursue our aggregate self- interests. Maybe we'll pull back before our current episode matches the Triassic extinction or the K-T event. Maybe it will turn out to be no worse than the Eocene extinction, with a 35 per cent loss of species. "Are you hopeful?" I ask. Given that hope is a duty from which palaeontologists are exempt, I'm surprised when he answers, "Yes, I am."

I'm not. My own guess about the mid-term future is that our Planet of Weeds will indeed be a crummier place, a lonelier and uglier place, and a particularly wretched place for the two billion people comprising Alan Durning's absolute poor. What will increase most dramatically as time proceeds, I suspect, won't be generalised misery or futuristic modes of consumption, but the gulf between two global classes experiencing those extremes. Progressive failure of ecosystem functions? Yes, but human resourcefulness of the sort Julian Simon so admired will probably find stopgap technological remedies, to be available for a price. So the world's privileged class - that's your class and my class - will probably still manage to maintain themselves inside Homer-Dixon's stretch limo, drinking bottled water and breathing bottled air and eating reasonably healthy food that has become incredibly precious, while the potholes on the road outside grow ever deeper. Eventually the limo will look more like a lunar rover. Raggle-taggle mobs of desperate souls will cling to its bumpers, like groupies on Elvis's final Cadillac. The absolute poor will suffer their lack of ecological privilege in the form of lowered life expectancy, bad health, absence of education, corrosive want and anger. Maybe in time they'll find ways to gather themselves in localised revolt against the affluent class. Not likely, though, as long as affluence buys guns. In any case, well before that they will have burned the last stick of Bornean dipterocarp for firewood and roasted the last lemur, the last grizzly bear, the last elephant remaining outside captivity.

Jablonski has a hundred things to do before leaving for Alaska, so after two hours I clear out. The heat on the sidewalk is fierce, though not nearly as fierce as this summer's heat in New Delhi or Dallas, where people are dying. Since my flight doesn't leave until early evening, I take a cab downtown and take refuge in a nouveau-Cajun restaurant near the river. Over a beer and jambalaya, I glance again at Jablonski's 1991 Science paper, titled "Extinctions: A Palaeontological Perspective". I also play back the tape of our conversation, pressing my ear against the little recorder to hear it over the lunch-crowd noise.

Among the last questions I asked Jablonski was, what will happen after this mass extinction, assuming it proceeds to a worst-case scenario? If we destroy half or two-thirds of all living species, how long will it take for evolution to fill the planet back up?

"I don't know the answer to that," he said. "I'd rather not bottom out and see what happens next." In the journal paper he had hazarded that, based on fossil evidence in rock laid down atop the K-T event and others, the time required for full recovery might be five or 10 million years. From a palaeontological perspective, that's fast. "Biotic recoveries after mass extinctions are geologically rapid but immensely prolonged on human time scales," he wrote. There was also the proviso, cited from another expert, that recovery might not begin until after the extinction-causing circumstances have disappeared. But in this case, of course, the circumstances aren't likely to disappear until we do.

Still, evolution never rests. It's happening right now, in weed patches all over the planet. I'm not presuming to alert you to the end of the world, the end of evolution or the end of nature. What I've tried to describe here is not an absolute end but a very deep dip, a repeat point within a long, violent cycle. Species die, species arise. The relative pace of those two processes is what matters.

Even rats and cockroaches are capable - given the right conditions, namely, habitat diversity and time - of evolving into new species. And speciation brings new diversity. So we might reasonably imagine an Earth upon which, 10 million years after the extinction (or, alternatively, the drastic transformation) of Homo sapiens, wondrous forests are again filled with wondrous beasts. That's the good news. !

Photography with the kind permission of Horniman Museum & Gardens


Why does my simulation not support the idea that inbreeding is bad? - Biology

by jaidonx13 » Thu Apr 21, 2011 9:02 am

Jamiedog wrote: The reason you see deformities and inherited diseases more often in siblings is because they're more likely to have the same recessive genes for those conditions, which are then more likely to both show up in the chromosomes of the offspring. On the other hand, of course, if you had two dragons with the recessive gene for, say, pink toenails (to create a totally fictitious example), and they were mated, you're much more likely to get babies with pink toenails than if you mated one pink-toenail dragon to one that didn't have pink toenails.

Let's say you've got one particular gene, Aa . The "A" is dominant, and will show up if you get an A from each parent, or an A and an a . If you have two parents - siblings - who have the same Aa genetic structure, because they got that from their parents, then you will have offspring that could be AA , Aa , or aa . Statistically, this will mean 25% will be AA , 25% will be aa , and 50% will be Aa . (Obviously, in practice, you may not get such pretty numbers!) If you want those pink toenails and they're recessive,

25% of the babies produced will have pink toenails. But let's say this particular family line carries a genetic disorder that causes deformity of the spine - you'll also get

25% of the babies with that, and up to 75% will be carriers of that gene, so the next generation, if you breed siblings again, you're much more likely to see that spinal deformity crop up. And so on and so on, until you have 100% recessive genes dominating a particular line, and they've all got the spinal deformity. (And in some cases, with sex-linked disorders, you'll have the recessive condition show up on a male even if the condition is only inherited from the mother - as with hemophilia. It is linked to the X chromosome, so when a male gets that single X chromosome with the disorder attached, he will have hemophilia. With a female, they will need an X from both the mother and the father with that recessive condition attached to it. So in that case, a male who had the Aa or the aa structure will exhibit the condition, but a female only will if she gets aa . Does that make sense?)

This might make it a little clearer, if you prefer pictures to words: http://www.hhmi.org/genetictrail/e110.html

Obviously, it's a little more complicated than that in practice, but hopefully that gives you some idea of why it could happen. And with that possibility, it's usually best not to mix lines that are particularly closely related. Look what's happened to dogs as a result - all the awful inherited conditions that often kill them very young because at some point people were more interested in getting a particular look than caring for the health and wellbeing of the animals. You've also got the famous examples of hemophilia and porphyria in the royal families of Europe.

Someone else can probably explain it better than I can, but maybe that will give you a starting point!

Thanks! That's a lot of info, probably took you a half hour to write that thanks it makes it clear now hahah, because i know deformities happen in humans, had to make sure it was the same for beardies.

I make FREE custom banners! Just e-mail me some pictures of your Beardie!


Jim's Blog

In otherwords, kin altruism does not go far, being pretty much limited to the nuclear family and the extended family.

It can be stretched to somewhat larger groups by deliberate inbreeding, by the practice of father’s brother’s daughter marriage, but then you get moderate IQ depression due to inbreeding, and the achievable group size is not all that much larger.

Nazis tend to believe that whites would not make war on each other except for the evil mind control rays emitted by Jews. Thus world wars One and Two were supposedly Jewish plots.

History demonstrates otherwise. Whites are markedly better at war than other races, because we have been practicing on each other so hard for so long.

The program of Nazism is Socialism for white people only.

To hell with that. Lets be really racist and have capitalism for superior people like ourselves and socialism for inferiors, for people we don’t like and wish to see crushed.

So where does nationalism come from?

then nationalism becomes not dissimilar to other forms of modern identity politics which afflict the world at present. The Gay community, The Feminist community* or any other such constructs are purely a result of the media fragmenting and power considerations (democratic needs, desperate scramble for state justification) just as much as the nationalism of the 19 th and 20 th century was the result of mass media identity formation and power considerations (mass conscription, democratic needs etc).

This seems to argue for empire – but empires as we have seen undermine trust and cohesion. In the end the founding ethnicity of the empire winds up being oppressed by the empire, as Turks were oppressed by the Ottoman Empire, and Americans are now oppressed by the American empire.

New International Outlook continues to argue that Nationalism is inherently leftist:

Nationalism is leftism, it arose as a question of equality based on ethnic similarities and has merely been overtaken by an even more inclusive version of nationalism which holds that all of humanity is one nation.

The validity of Nationalism comes, not from altruism as Nazis tend to argue, but from trust, from the assurance of reciprocity, from the confidence that bad behavior within the group will be prevented.

Nationalism works, is real, if near is actually more trustworthy than far – because word of bad behavior will get back to those close to the person behaving badly, and this word will have bad consequences.

Observe how tourist girls go wild and fuck around indiscriminately, having sex with all sorts of people, old men and blacks that they would never have sex with at home, because they figure that sex overseas does not add to their count.

If, however, this word getting back to near has no consequences, nationalism is unreal. A nation does not really exist, is unreal a mere construct of propaganda, unless bad conduct has bad consequences, at least for members of the elite.

Collective action is hard, the central insight of the neoreaction being that extremely bad solutions are better than pretend solutions. Diversity undermines asabiyyah, making collective action even harder.

The Nazi error is to imagine that collective action is easy – hence their error of socialism, and that asabiyyah comes naturally. It does not.

Nationalism is necessarily ethno nationalism, since diversity destroys trust. Nationalism only works to the extent that near is more trustworthy than far, and that near is indeed trustworthy.

Thus nationalism requires a social order that encourages and rewards virtue – where being a bad guy has consequences, and by consequences I don’t mean chicks giving you their number for booty calls.

Jewish cohesiveness rested on strict patriarchy. A Jew would give his daughters to someone talented and virtuous, which compelled all Jews to behave virtuously to other Jews (but not necessarily to non Jews)

Thus, Jews dominated the diamond trade because if one diamond merchant cheated another, he or his sons would not have wives.

As Jewish patriarchy evaporates, as progressivism successfully assimilates Judaism, Jewish cohesiveness evaporates a generation or two later. The Orthodox will slowly follow the path their reform brethren have already taken. Today, they are no longer all that patriarchal. Soon they will no longer have social cohesion and resistance to decadence and fraud.

On the one hand Nationalism is solidly in the left, and yet there is something very left wing about the fact that empires tend to wind up being run for the conquered at the expense of the founding ethnicity, as hordes of foreigners migrate to the capital.

It is obviously easier for the ruled to admire and respect the rulers, and the rulers to look after the ruled, if ruled and rulers are the same ethnicity and religion.

It is obviously easier to build functional institutions, to have reciprocity and trust, between people of the same ethnicity and religion.

Collective decision making is an unsolved problem, and the reactionary insight is that it is better to have horribly bad solutions to this problem, than fake solutions. It is a much harder problem when you have diverse ethnicities involved, because of the lack of trust and reciprocity.

So if we wind up saying that collective decisions need to be made on the ethnicity scale, because larger scales are even harder, that is remarkably similar to ethnonationalism.

Chan/Pol interprets Jewish degeneracy as ethnonationalism, as a plot by Jews to destroy the white race.

Against this analysis: The most cohesive Jews, the believers, and the most cohesive of all, the orthodox believers, are not degenerate, and generally don’t show up pushing degeneracy or launching lawsuits against Christmas.

The observations that the pol hypothesis explains are also explainable as Jews as jumping on the prog bandwagon.

If someone is pushing degeneracy, or trying to destroy the white race, he is probably a Jew. If, however, someone is torturing archaeology and history to supposedly prove that Moses, King David, and King Solomon never existed, also a Jew – and often the same Jew.

The Jew that denies the existence of King Solomon is attacking the Jewish identity.

If Jews were trying to take over the world they wouldn’t be sabotaging themselves as well.

The fact that they are drinking their own koolaide means that they are just as pwned as your average white progressive

I see orthodox Jews torturing their holy texts to get the conclusion that Orthodox Jews should be accepting of gays – and I see progressive Jews torturing the historical and archaeological evidence to get the conclusion that King Solomon’s temple never existed.

Judaism is lagging in its assimilation to progressivism, so progressivism is upping the pressure, and clever Talmudic scholars are cleverly finding increasing amounts of progressivism in the Talmud.

The only religion I see showing real signs of life is Jihadi Islam. Every other religion is just piously going through the motions while slowly being digested by progressivism. Putin is trying to stitch up an authentically Russian Orthodoxy, but has not got far. China is furtively sneaking away from Maoism and Socialism with Chinese Characteristics towards Confucianism and the Mandate of Heaven, but they are still mighty furtive. Meanwhile lots of Chinese go to western universities, where they get brainwashed with progressivism, and since these are the wealthiest Chinese, progressivism is high status for Chinese.

A lot of reactionaries are converting to Roman Catholicism, as the religion with the most credible historical claim to universal religious authority.

If you get married in a Roman Catholic Church, they will shoot the husband in the back by undermining in his authority and promoting divorce in accordance with progressive doctrine and contrary to New Testament and official Roman Catholic doctrine

Further, universal religious authority is a logical implication of of a universal god, one god for all peoples, but I observe the British empire, which the world’s greates empire, the scientific revolution, and the technological revolution happened under an ethnic national church.

Universalism is harmful, because universalism undermines social cohesion and asabiyyah, so universal churches are harmful, so universal gods are harmful. And in that sense, the Jews really are to blame – the problem being not undue Jewish influence in banking and Hollywood but that Christianity is a Jewish heresy, and progressivism is a Christian heresy.

National Christian Churches can work, as for example Anglicanism from 1660 to 1820, but they have an innate tendency to turn universal. Perhaps if we made sure that warriors were on top of priests, and made priesthoods into semi hereditary family businesses as in Shinto or Icelandic paganism, the tendency to universalism could be adequately restrained.

Universalism leads to universal empire. Multiple universal empires lead to war. A single universal empire tends to sacrifice its central nation, its founding ethnicity, for the good of the empire, which is what so pissed off the Turks about the Ottoman empire, that they ended the Caliphate.

Like white anglo saxon protestants today, the Turks were oppressed by their subject nations, rather than oppressing them. And that is the problem with worshipping a universal creator God. Not necessarily an insoluble problem, but it is a problem nonetheless. Obviously you need one church per nation – which would suggest one god, or set of Gods, per nation. The Japanese have the sun god and a bunch of vaguely defined lesser deities, and they do fine. It is not apparent that Japanese believe in the Sun God, but they believe in believing. The Japanese are hopelessly decadent now (watch any anime) but they were not decadent before MacArthur.

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85 Responses to “Nationalism, whiteness, and kin”

[…] has some final remarks on Nationalism, Whiteness, and Kin. Also, he applauds Putin’s deft passing of Cathedral fitness tests. And late-breaking science […]

[…] nationalism. Related: Jim on universalism and nationalism. Related: Some Evola: The two faces of […]

“Perhaps if we made sure that warriors were on top of priests,…”

Or pursue Ethno-Nationalist (warrior) solutions more, for example making the Medal of Honor and its attendand perks last for three generations instead of only one generation. The intention would be to build more hereditary power into the military, which gets the nobility, the Ethno-Nationalist faction, back in power. With a history of canon law already on record, the Theonomist faction, or priesthood, would be urged to catch-up to the changing enviroment and opportunities.

No. Progressivism is not only Cthulhu’s Theonomy, but his Ethno-Nationalism and his Techno-Commercialism.

Focusing on Theonomy, so as to call The Cathedral a product or heresy of the previous Theonomy, is missing at least 2/3s of the problem.

Just left a message but it wen to your spam filter

wow, who the Hell decided that it would be arguing about religion time in blog.reaction.la? And the arguments are more retarded that usual. Does Christianity need the Old Testament? Is the Genesis story ex nihilo / is it compatible with ex nihilo? How magnanimous are the Jew scriptures towards other nations?

our species created mythos and logos few relate to logos. “does it matter”? how did nation states and empires come to be? wars and stories and heroes and gods and on and on and on… elsewhere in the news, the only christian nation left on the planet is ready to defend itself to the death against the sabbatean overlords…. “does it matter”…. hmmm

Universalism arises from hobbit morality.

The hobbit’s unsophisticated mind doesn’t have the spare capacity to distinguish ‘my local norms’ from ‘norms’ simpliciter. It’s perfectly natural for them to think of outgroups either as demonic enemies or as imperfect ingroups, and only those.

If peace or something remove ‘devils’ from the options, then it becomes particularly natural to think their god is just a misunderstood version of your god. Presumably there are some forces that can keep things stable, but they’re highly contingent, thus we frequently see the slide into quantum degeneracy.

Fathers will happily have sex with daughters, and brothers with sisters, if they do not become acquainted until both have passed puberty. Unrelated children raised together feel no sexual attraction. Darwinian selection does not work well in such corner cases because it doesn’t have to.

In low-trust tribal societies, people are raised in close proximity to their cousins and feel strong solidarity with them. If this precludes sexual attraction, tough shit, you’re marrying Uncle Ahmed’s daughter anyway.

In post-industrial nuclear-family societies, first cousins are not much closer than total strangers.

If Uncle Ahmed’s daughter is strictly segregated from you, you won’t get the Westermarck effect, so you’ll be happy to marry her.

Look, humans aren’t psychic, we don’t know what percent of our genes are shared by various people, so we have to use a bunch of proxy effects, which are imperfect.

Humans instinctively know to discriminate against the outgroup from birth, which is most effective if the outgroup looks different, but they don’t know the genetic math about how closely related their cousins are.

Genetically similar people have advantages in developing friendships and romantic relationships, but it doesn’t happen immediately or automatically.

Wow there’s a lot of cognitive disso …a lot of disparate ideas coming together in a sort of hazy way.

Is it too much to ask that Nationalism not be automatically considered Nazism? Even if you’re White? Or is White and male, Christian automatic Godwin override.

What if we break this down: It’s OK to be White.

It’s OK for males to be Men.

It’s OK to defend your own as an extension of self-defense.

And most importantly we don’t need to automatically define ourselves against the Other. Or against All Other.

And now that they’ve got a place, the Other of Others doesn’t either…and frankly seems to have moved on at least in their own place.

The other Others of Other are stuck in the past and we’re finally noticing how Other_aren’t_our_kin they are, and blaming them for our utter collapse of manhood. Which they are not to blame for, although they did take advantage instantly to a degree only exceeded by their pouncing on the Russians in 1917 and committing genocide after genocide until Stalin crushed them in 1937.

They can’t do that here, so they haven’t. Also the brave ones are of course in Other-land.

Which is the only quarrel, really they’re just leading the predator pack.

We’re the ones that chose to be Sheep, of course the Wolves attacked.

That some wolves are more competent than others is hardly their fault.

Why do we need to keep talking about this? WE ARE OUR PROBLEM.

Not them, any of them.
======================
I must say this theory: “Girls Gone Wild means Nationalism is a complete failure” is fascinating Jim.

Porn is spilling wider and wider into our society means Nationalism doesn’t work, if it did our girls would only make pilgrimages to Holy Shrines. It’s NATIONALISM that’s to blame. Because Nationalism can only mean NAZI_!!

Actually anything to do with Porn shouldn’t be invoked in any post where you seek to exculpate however awkwardly the Other. Really. That Other will own Porn for 1000 years if Humanity continues.

A race of pornographers, really just their inherent need to degrade people expressing itself in Art.

The Arabs are the same way they just select more for violence and less for intelligence. Inbreeding bad too. The Arabs cut heads off, the Other puts porn and trash TV everywhere it can. Not sure which is worse.

But it’s us. We’re pussies and that’s our problem.

Again it’s us, not them. Any of them. That doesn’t mean we have to keep taking Shit from anyone. Including Other. No one. Or ourselves.

We need to start kicking ass and taking heads, burning and sacking. It’s ancient and it works. Respect must have an underlying foundation of Fear.

Jesus, Christianity, and the Bible are three entirely different things and never the trio shall meet.

Often Christianity is associated with family values but Jesus seems to disagree.

Mathew
󈫺:34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
10:35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
10:36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.
10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
And plenty more
http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/fv/nt_list.html

Jesus also seems to not like Goyim:
“Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 10:5,6)

15:21Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. 22A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly from demon-possession.”
23Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.”
24He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
25The woman came and knelt before him. “Lord, help me!” she said.
26He replied, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to their dogs.”

And the Old Testament is like Mein Kampf for Jews except more explicit. The idea that non Hebrews would use the Bible as the foundation document for their religion seems rather ridiculous. Considering this we should not be surprised if in a few centuries time most Semites take part in a religion called Hitleranity.

The kind afterlife that appeals to me most is not any of those kitch and uneventful Heavens or Paradises, but what Julias Caesar informs me my ancestors believed. Kin based reincarnation:
“They wish to inculcate this as one of their leading tenets, that souls do not become extinct, but pass after death from one body to another, and they think that men by this tenet are in a great degree excited to valor, the fear of death being disregarded.”

The Norse also had a nice place which is kind of like video game endlessly fighting and respawning.

> The idea that non Hebrews would use the Bible as the foundation document for their religion seems rather ridiculous.

Genesis 22:18-“in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.”

Exodus 32:11-12:-” And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said: ‘LORD, why doth Thy wrath wax hot against Thy people, that Thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, saying: For evil did He bring them forth, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from Thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against Thy people.'”
Psalm 86:9-“All nations whom thou hast made shall come and worship before thee, O Lord and shall glorify thy name.”

Isaiah 56:7-“Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer their burnt-offerings and their sacrifices shall be acceptable upon Mine altar for My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.”

Malachi 1:11-“For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same My name is great among the nations and in every place offerings are presented unto My name, even pure oblations for My name is great among the nations, saith the LORD of hosts. “

Deuteronomy 4:6 Keep therefore and do them for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.

I guess goyim are just condemned to watch helplessly while the wise and understanding Jews have all the good stuff, because only Jews are allowed to be wise and understanding. No goyim allowed.

Oh wait, what? I don’t see where the Bible restricts wisdom and understanding to any one group of people. Ergo, the wisdom found in Torah is for all nations. Included in that wisdom are strong rules leading to national, tribal, clan, family, and individual segregation/qadosh/holiness.

“If they tell you there is wisdom amongst the other nations, believe them. If they tell you there is Torah among the nations, don’t believe them.” (Midrash Rabbah, Lamentations 17)

There is wisdom and then there is wisdom.

What are you saying, that Torah is a type of wisdom recognizable by, but not intended for the use of, other nations?

In Isaiah, the end goal of “every man under his own vine and fig tree”, is the ultimate expression of the Separatist/Qadosh/Holy plan of creation. It represents the ultimate scattering of mankind across the face of the earth, which kicked off with the Tower of Babel story in Genesis 10. If mankind scattered naturally, there would have been no need to “confuse the tongues”, which included religious myth-systems as well as languages. Tolkien was right when he said that every language requires a mythology to go with it.

So far, Torah is the only religion that explains the origin of the religions in a way that doesn’t judge or condemn all “non-believers” to death. Myth systems, like languages, are tools for branching humans into distinct groups, similar to how cells divide, plants send for new shoots, and bees send forth new colony/swarms.

I am distinguishing Torah from modern day Orthodox Judaism, which isn’t too far removed from Islam or the Watchtower version of Christianity.

I most certainly wouldn’t give my life for 8 cousins. I’ve hardly met any of them for years. Family love depends on spending time together, not genetics which you can hardly perceive. That’s why army units are cohesive the brain identifies kin by proximity and shared experiences, not genetic distance.

And all of that is subject to wider societal pressure. You might hate your brother and want to get rid of them, but that looks so bad your reputation would plummet. Fortunately there’s a priest round the corner to come up with a good reason for you to rationalize your restraint.

>I most certainly wouldn’t give my life for 8 cousins. I’ve hardly met any of them for years. Family love depends on spending time together, not genetics which you can hardly perceive. That’s why army units are cohesive the brain identifies kin by proximity and shared experiences, not genetic distance.

I wish that was so. My extended family has experience with interracial adoption. Needless to say the adopted child no longer views my family as kin and in fact let her adopted mother become homeless while she lives in a million dollar home.

Jim has it backwards here, it’s not that inbreed people are more willing to die for their cousins, it’s that they’re more likely to kill for and support their cousins. Shooting someone in the back who harmed your extended family doesn’t necessary imply a willing to die for ones relatives. The willingness to die is generally only for directly family members and can be reproduced by the western military model. Even then it’s largely based on local standards.

The mongols used to flee rather than fight invaders attacking their families. Famous Indian fighters generally ran for help rather than stay and die with their families. Dieing for ones kin isn’t an advantage for the reproduction your genes. Avenging, supporting, and helping your kin is.

In Deutronomy 32:8-9, the High God, El Elyon, assigns the Jews to Yahweh. Unfortunately the text does not indicate whom he assigned to us, the Indo-Europeans, but the Bible is addressed to rich Jewish men, so that is to be expected.

By the way, Elohim (plural) did not create out of nothingness. Like a good Eurasian gods, they organized the pre-existing chaos. Witzel (The Origins of the World’s Mythologies, Oxford, 2012) has a very interesting discussion of our myths.

Nonsense. The Torah is addressed to the entire Jewish nation, not rich men.

And creation ex nihilo is one of the foundational principles of Judaism. Maimonides goes on about this at length, and says that someone who doesn’t accept this isn’t really following Judaism.

Creation ex nihilo is not Torah. Creation via “qadosh”, separation, segregation, making distinctions, is how the Elohim of Torah did things. And most world mythologies share this trait.

Matriarchal England ruled the world for two centuries matriarchal Israel may do the same. As with England before it, Israeli men will keep fleeing the motherland (heh) to find feminine women they can actually get along with and make families with.

Maimonides is very insistent that creation ex nihilo is Torah.

Once G-d created something, then he separated it. We can see this in Genesis.

I fail to notice matriarchy in Israel. Comparing Israeli and American women, the former are more feminine, and birth rates reflect this.

Rambam? Wasn’t he the one that disagreed with Rashi, feeling that Sod, Drash, and Remez didn’t need to agree with Pashat? Since Sod Drash and Remez interpretations of Torah can be conjured up Ex Nihilo, it makes sense he would say the universe was created Ex Nihilo too.

I suspect Rashi would be in agreement with me on the kadosh being applied to chaos.

I find Israeli men much more masculine than Diaspora men. Israeli men and women in general much better looking than Diaspora. I can’t speak further without visiting Israel in person.

» Israeli men and women in general much better looking than Diaspora

be careful, what you say sounds like heresy. people could get away with saying that a decade ago, but they’re much more uptight about it now

Looking at google images, seems plausible. Why is it so?

Quadosh means ‘holy’ not ‘separation’. not sure where you got that from.

For more philosophical foundation on this process of creation by making distinctions/separations/segregations, see “The Laws of Form”, by George Spencer-Brown.

One can make a good case from pre history, genetics, and legend, that Odin is a deified ancestor of the Aryans – that the Aryans arose from the mingling of two non Aryan races through exchange of hostages, the Aesir and the Vanir, with different genes for fair skin – that Snorri’s Heimskringla is tolerably accurate and historical.

Uh, great. Good luck getting people to sacrifice their personal advantage for “Odin.”

You’d be amazed at the stupid things people sacrifice their lives for.

I don’t want people to sacrifice their personal advantage.

I want a system were people can safely pursue their long term advantage, and it is to their long term advantage to refrain from negative sum behaviors.

Again, pig-philosophy. If you create such a system, it will lose to one which can convince people to sacrifice their personal advantage in the service of a greater cause.

The British empire was conquered by merchant adventurers, people who half merchant, half pirate, and half slaver (which adds up to one and a half because they were larger than life size). It was lost by people who dedicated themselves to the greater cause of spreading civilization and bearing the white man’s burden.

But even their pursuit of self advantage required them to take great risks, risks they took upon themselves before of a certain concept of manhood. Their bravery did not just happen!

here’s an interesting tidbit for you.

Rabbinical lore says that(at least some of modern) Germany comes from Gomer. Ashkenaz was a descendant of Gomer, hence ‘Ashkenazi Jew’. Josephus traces the biblical names to tribes of Roman times which can be related to modern nations.

Here’s some interesting facts for you:

» unironically quoting rabbinical lore
» trusting a Jew
» ever
ლ(ಠ益ಠლ)

‘Ashkenazi Jew’ comes from this name, not meaning that those jews are descendants of Ashkenaz(confusingly) but rather because they were living among that tribe. This name predates the Roman Empire.

[…] can really mess you up (closely related). Celebrating intersectionality. The case for moralizing gods. Hurlock has […]

[…] can really mess you up (closely related). Celebrating intersectionality. The case for moralizing gods. Hurlock has […]

This is a very autistic view of human nature.

Aside from shame, which prevents people from acting badly when it may cause them social problems and doesn’t prevent them from acting badly when the possibility of social problems is removed, there is also guilt, which keeps people from acting badly even when there is no possibility of social punishment, or even when there is social incentive for acting badly.

Haldane is full of shit. The typical Arab will not die for his cousins, no matter how many of them there are. He might even sell them out. On the other hand, Sepharadi, Ashkenazi, Yemeni and Ethiopian Jews give their lives for each other in every war, with no concern about genetic proximity. Furthermore, an entire generation of Frenchmen gave their lives for their nation, a very abstract and genetically unmappable concept, during WW1. Most of the Soviet infantry was composed of Central Asians by 1944. Etc. People are, as Stove points out, not cod or pine trees, which are largely motivated by genetics.

But even cod and pine trees don’t sacrifice themselves for their brothers or cousins. Let alone for cospecifics who are tenuously related to them.

Jews didn’t dominate the diamond trade because cheating would result in not being able to find wives for their children. Jews dominated the diamond trade because they believed in G-d, who calls cheating in business an abomination. Without this, no amount of laws will help you.

Jews didn’t dominate the diamond trade because cheating would result in not being able to find wives for their children. Jews dominated the diamond trade because they believed in G-d, who calls cheating in business an abomination. Without this, no amount of laws will help you.

Pretty much everyone believes in such a God. Yet this God is a lot more effective in altering their behavior when there are social consequences in this world for disobeying him.

And I rather think most Arabs, indeed most people, would give their lives for two brothers or eight cousins.

That’s not true, most people don’t believe in such a god. Not in the same way you believe in Australia.

Most people who wouldn’t give their lives for one brother or one child wouldn’t give their lives for two, or for any amount of cousins. But many people will give their lives for their teammates who are not related to them.

My experience with the Arabs tells me that many of them are willing to sell their cousins for a bit of money. Giving up their lives doesn’t enter the equation.

“My experience with the Arabs tells me that many of them are willing to sell their cousins for a bit of money. Giving up their lives doesn’t enter the equation.” Sure. I will take your personal experience with some Arabs you don’t like over inclusive fitness and the ability of self sacrifice to actually evolve. Sure thing. As for people dying for their country, this seems to be a massive pozzing of genetic propensity to fight and sacrifice for close Kin, or massive manipulation of people’s need to fit in with society. The genes were not developed in an arena in which mass media existed.

Sure, why would I trust my personal experience and that of my peers, friends and mentors over a half-baked pseudoreligious framework?

I don’t know what “pozzing” is, but I suspect that you would apply the term to any human activity above the animalistic level. You know, El Greco and William Blake did what they did because of pozzing of a genetic propensity to show off for mates, etc. This is not a very interesting or productive way to think about human activity.

Genetics as pseudoreligious? That’s a new one. As for thinking about human activity, if your criteria is not based on the whys and hows linked to biology then you might as well just save time and pull explanations out of your backside.

Genetics is not pseudoreligious.

The application of concepts from genetics to explain complex human behavior is pseudoreligious.

Roissy’s “god of biomechanics” (who apparently dictates lots of non-childproducing sex) and all that. I linked Stove’s Darwinian Fairytales above, where he points out all the ways in which people act contrary to the just-so narrative of evo psych.

Evo psych is bullshit when it’s used to explain how we have gay people because having a gay uncle is a great advantage in survival, and it’s bullshit when used to explain how people sacrifice themselves for an ideal because that will help them get chicks, or help their cousins get chicks, or is fulfilling a genetic mechanism originally designed to help them or their cousins get chicks.

Yes, suicide bombers kill themselves for the lulz instead of their tribe!

Does that include Mizrahi Jews, you fuckking Zionist faggot?

» Jews dominated the diamond trade because they believed in G-d, who calls cheating in business an abomination.

im guessing that jews in fact dominated the diamond trade by cheating in business

Jim, can you explain what you mean by “Universal Creator God”? When I read the books of Moses, I see a God who said “be holy, for I am holy”. Then he isolated himself by several layers of indirection in his Tabernacle.

In Genesis 9-10 we have the concept of holiness defined for human society 70 distinct human ethno-nations, with defined geographical boundaries. Then there were rules of land inheritance that said foreigners could come among you, but not own land. And had to assimilate for as long as they remained.

To me, this God is Universal, because he is One God for all races of men. But he is also a Holy God, because he himself divided man into ethno-nations and gave us a continuing sign that this is His intention from then until now, and into the future: the confusion of languages. There is no worldwide language. And even when people speak English with perfect grammar, the confusion remains, as words are continually redefined depending on context. It takes a proper cross examiner to discover that the conversation you just had with that Eastern European, meant something else to him than it did to you.

In short, religious people today aren’t holy and don’t understand holiness because they don’t understand the original meaning of the word: “separation”. Nothing more, nothing less.

The Genesis story, and almost every creation narrative worldwide, is a story of progressive holiness, not a story of creation ex nihili.

First there was chaos.
Then darkness was separated from light.
Then heaven was separated from earth.
Then land was separated from ocean.
Then man was separated from the clay.
Then the stars and heavenly luminaries were separated from the light.
Then plants were separated from the clay
Then flyers and swimmers were separated from the clay
Then land beasts were separated from the clay
Then woman was separated from man
Then the sabbath day was separated from the six working days

The holiness concept pervades the Bible at a very deep level.

You can compare the flood narrative (all flesh had corrupted its way) with the Babel story (and all men were separated over the surface of the earth). Why does it say men were separated? So that corruption wouldn’t spread over the whole earth again.

When there is a sickness, what do you do? Quarantine. Holiness.

When two burning sticks are brought together, they burn even hotter. Separate them, and the flame may even go out.

universal, as distinct from ancestor gods, and the gods of field and stream,

Creator god, made the universe.

Jim, have you considered that a Holy (separatist) Creator God, working through the agency of lesser, subsdiary “sons of God” gods, doesn’t have any of the vulnerabilities that a Universalist (Christian, Muslim) Creator God has?

The Hebrew text of the Bible (Deuteronomy, Job) implies that the Creator God divided up each nation of humankind, and assigned them their own god. It doesn’t go into detail on the implications of that though.

That would be a good solution, but my cynicism is too corrosive for me to get into the prophet business.

also, in the Bible, Jacob jews Esau out of his birthright, and then tricks Isaac into giving Jacob his blessing instead of Esau, so, Isaac says to Esau,

36 And he said, Is not he rightly named Jacob? for he hath supplanted me these two times: he took away my birthright and, behold, now he hath taken away my blessing. And he said, Hast thou not reserved a blessing for me?

37 And Isaac answered and said unto Esau, Behold, I have made him thy lord, and all his brethren have I given to him for servants and with corn and wine have I sustained him: and what shall I do now unto thee, my son?

38 And Esau said unto his father, Hast thou but one blessing, my father? bless me, even me also, O my father. And Esau lifted up his voice, and wept.

39 And Isaac his father answered and said unto him, Behold, thy dwelling shall be the fatness of the earth, and of the dew of heaven from above

40 And by thy sword shalt thou live, and shalt serve thy brother and it shall come to pass when thou shalt have the dominion, that thou shalt break his yoke from off thy neck.

So get to it White people! It is written that we shall have the dominion and break the yoke of Israel from our necks!

Also, as Dystopia Max pointed out, we don’t need the Old Testament for the core of Christianity, we can use Greek mythology for Christianity as well.

The New Testament was designed to work with the Old Testament as a core. Because the Old Testament was jettisoned early on, Christianity careens around like a drunken man. From the very beginning. Without end. Every Protestant sect that embraced the Old Testament as core, did very well. However, they get rich fat and lazy, look for ecumenical oneness with other Christians, and then the progressive poison seeps back in.

if you examine the relations between Jacob and Esau, ie between Israel and Rome- you see a specific pattern.

Esau only seems to gain the upper hand through Jacob’s own failings. When he fails to live up to himself, Esau steps in and tortures him. that last excerpt from Genesis is an important one.

Esau’s ‘house’ shows up later in the chumash as Amalek.

The Torah says more or less that all the nations have their own angels (meaning, in Maimonidean interpretation, not a magic invisible guy with wings but a sort of set of key principles/destiny/trajectory governing their fate,) with the exception of Jews who are directly under G-d.

There are certainly no other gods, which is explicit-any worship of other gods is just vain worship of sticks and stones.

Sons of God, yes, that maps to angels fairly well. Why would these shephered/angels allow their subjects to worship false gods? I find the answer in the Babel story. Confusing the tongues relates to confusing the mythological narratives as much as the grammar and syntax of their languages.

Can you refer me to some of your posts where you describe ancestor gods and gods of field and stream, in a way that distinguishes them from Creator god(s)? If it isn’t too much bother. I don’t want to comment too much further without knowing what your terms mean.

the reason why they built the Tower Of Babel was because they thought they could prevent death from another flood, hence a tower ie. they thought they could defy god. I think you’re on with your other point, they are separated in order to prevent them from selfish desires.

Japanese religion is even more Jim-worthy than that: whether your family is nominally Buddhist or Shinto, religious observance is merged into a national religion. Babies are taken to a Shinto shrine and you return to your hometown on the Buddhist holiday Obon, to tend to your ancestors’ gravesite.

I sense the coming together of a lot of disparate ideas in this post. Sadly, it’s wrong, because at least one or two of those ideas are wrong. Larry Auster described the problem better:

“The key to Christian this-worldly confidence is not that an individual Christian be Jewish (an absurd and offensive idea) it is that Christian society—any Christian society—must include non-Christian cultural and political sources.

This is an absolutely fundamental point that Christians must understand. The original teaching of Christianity as presented in the New Testament is about how to live in what Jesus called the kingdom of heaven. It is about the individual soul’s relation with God through Christ. It is not about the political organization of society. The New Testament simply assumes the existence of political society and goes on from there. Because Christianity is not, like orthodox Judaism and Islam, a complete recipe for this-worldly existence, Christians must “render unto Caesar,” i.e., render unto a non-Christian basis of authority. Christian society is thus more complex—more differentiated, to use Eric Voegelin’s term—than any other. It is multileveled, mediating between the pole of the Christian, spiritual realm and the pole of political and cultural existence in this world, which does not come from Christianity itself. If the society loses its this-worldly pole it will go out of existence. This is the reason why Christian society is the riskiest and most dangerous type of society, the most open to catastrophic derailment, such as the derailment brought by modern liberalism. Yet Christianity’s this-worldly “lack,” which makes Christian society so vulnerable in comparison to the religiously structured society of traditional Judaism and Islam, is also the thing that, by requiring Christian society to be multileveled in order to function in this world, makes it the fullest and truest articulation of the human soul, extending downward to the apeirontic depths (the many) and upward to transcendent spiritual truth (the One).

Historical Christianity included the Old Testament as part of its scripture. This was a non-Christian source that provided the sense of living in this world as a community of people under God, a sense that is not provided by the New Testament. Thus Protestants, including the people who created America, were able to build strong national societies because they based themselves heavily on the Old Testament with its powerful sense of a people under God.

The non-Christian source that supplements pure Christianity doesn’t have to be the Old Testament. It could be classical philosophy or Greco-Roman culture or Germanic barbarian nationhood or feudalism or English nationhood or the American way of life or any number of other sources. It could be the traditional Catholic Church, which provides a template for this-worldly society. The Roman church of course carries the traces of its days as the official religion of Rome, and the Catholic liturgy also has deep roots in the ancient Jewish temple service.

People who try to form their practical ethics on the basis of a pure Christian teaching inevitably go gnostic. Look at the evangelicals today who have turned into globalist open borders wackos. Look at how the Christian traditionalist writers at What’s Wrong with the World have articulated a single, pure, all-ruling moral ethos against “killing the innocent” that in certain circumstances, e.g., if enemy invaders included innocent hostages in their ranks, would require a “morally pure” people to allow their enemies to kill, defeat, and enslave them. Some morality!

Christianity is at the center of our culture, but is not the totality of it. People who make some unmediated version of Christianity the totality of their view of culture and politics become a danger to their society.”

Christianity is risky, dangerous, and potentially very destructive because it’s true, it illuminates other truths, and it enables the Christian to wield those truths: for good, or ill. It is quite definitely true that the condition of those who apostasize from its truths are worse off than if they have never heard of it in the first place. It is not true that any of the alternatives to it can be considered tenable by thinking men, nor will they be defended by those who have already tasted the truth.

It is enough to say that he who discovers and follows Christ truly can end up saving his entire family, clan, tribe, and nation, often in ways both unexpected and unprecedented, because only Christ can enable one to rise above his own nature. The greatest danger is that those who already have a great nature by genetics, circumstance, or practice may not see the need for this, and thus be lost.

Gnon is not God, and cannot offer the individual the salvation, the discipline, or the destination that he most keenly desires, nor can he teach one to invuitively build the structures and societies that we have only just learned to appreciate.

Pursue Truth first, and the narratives will reveal themselves. When Christ awakens the hearts and heads of men, the darkest of societies can turn in an instant.

No religion can coexist with progressivism. Unless armed with nuclear weapons, it is going to turn into progressivism.

Christianity was able to coexist with Roman paganism because the pagans had lost their will and lost their way, because Rome, which told Christians they must burn a pinch of incense to the deified emperor or die, was fundamentally more tolerant than progressivism, which tells Christians that Jesus was community organizer, and that Christianity, rightly understood, is progressivism.

So your church is busy bringing illegals over the border, encourages wives to destroy the family assets and render their children fatherless, tells women that their only sin is insufficient self esteem, and also works to improve the self esteem of gays and transsexuals. Your Church may have Christians on the pews, but it does not have Christians in the pulpit, for if it did, there would be another Waco.

Any religion, to survive, ultimately has to overthrow progressivism as the state religion.

“Any religion, to survive, ultimately has to overthrow progressivism as the state religion.”

The most prominent options I see in how to depose progressivism is the Russian Option (possess nuclear weapons)… the other option is to wear progressivism’s skin while slowly undermining progressivism.

why weren’t the Golden Dawn leaders suicided in prison and the rest of Golden Dawn offered plata o plomo during those 18 months? why haven’t they been forced to flee the country instead of facing trial, which is going to be a bigger farce than the Zimmerman trial? why haven’t the institutional partners allowed Syriza to save face more than renaming the troika memorandum to the institutional partners loan agreement?

Why is Paul Kersey allowed to sell his books through amazon.com?

As Jim keeps saying, progressives believe that all religions are progressivism when interpreted correctly. They also believe that all current hominids, from Australoids to Pygmies, are really northern european Whites when raised correctly. If it was true, the residual sentimental white skin prejudice would melt away when white-skinned people met other people who aren’t actually different except for how they look, and racism would be seen as a pathetic gambit to temporarily retain some white skin privilege. As Moldbug says, this was not totally excluded in the literature in the middle of the last century, and, of course, at the beginning of the last century, Spengler wrote some history of the world stuff that totally ignored race and the Jews.

Well anyway, Jim also told me that the universities aren’t going to just melt away and all the professors of creative writing and calculus to be reduced to begging for hot dogs outside 7-11, he thinks it will take some kind of forceful military thing or whatever.

But if progressives don’t believe in themselves enough to keep Paul Kersey off of amazon.com, their religion isn’t going to survive.

The reason Paul Kersey can sell his books is that no progressive has heard of him, or can comprehend what is in his books. He is protected by crimestop.

Much as progressives failed to see the message in District 9.

They do know who David Duke is. He just told all his supporters that they’re trying to shut his YouTube page down over some bullshit copyright infringement accusation. Hatespeech is already against YouTube’s rules.

Why don’t they just get rid of him? He isn’t exactly fooling anyone when he says he isn’t an anti-Semite in his book Jewish Supremacy, is he?

David Duke is relatively harmless. He also makes the right that notices race look stupid, whereas Paul Kersey makes the right that notices race look smart – which is part of the reason progressives can see David Duke and cannot see Paul Kersey.

As the Incans could not see Pizarro’s men until swords pierced their hearts, progressives cannot see real threats.

“Jim also told me that the universities aren’t going to just melt away and all the professors of creative writing and calculus to be reduced to begging for hot dogs outside 7-11…”

An economic collapse has precisely this effect on professors and scientists. Or, if you prefer, on “professors” and “scientists”.



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