Area54

Macroevolution and Microevolution

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Area54    134

I lurked in this and other forums for some time before participating. I noticed, on several occassions, posters making the claim that microevolution and macroevolution

  • Were meaningless terms
  • Were avoided by professional biologists
  • Were introduced by creationists to enable them to explain away observed adaptation, but reject evolution of species

I view each of these positions as flawed (seriously flawed), but wonder if any members incline to agree with any or all of them, and if so, why?

 

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Phi for All    4770

What meaning do you find in breaking down an ongoing process in this way?

Professional biologists might have a similar problem describing conception as the beginning of life, since it's part of a living process. 

Creationists do indeed hide behind this distinction, and the meaning they find is religious, not scientific.

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Area54    134
15 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

What meaning do you find in breaking down an ongoing process in this way?

Professional biologists might have a similar problem describing conception as the beginning of life, since it's part of a living process. 

Creationists do indeed hide behind this distinction, and the meaning they find is religious, not scientific.

Many processes are subdivided depending upon scale. It can be a useful distinction. Melanism in peppered moths is on a different scale from the emergence of a new genus.

I'm afraid your second observation has lost me. Obviously conception is simply the continuation of life, not its beginning and equally sperm, ovum and zygote are all alive, so I don't see where you are heading with that even as an issue separate from evolution.

I did not say that creationists do not abuse the concept, I simply observed that they had not invented it.

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Phi for All    4770
14 hours ago, Area54 said:

I'm afraid your second observation has lost me. Obviously conception is simply the continuation of life, not its beginning and equally sperm, ovum and zygote are all alive, so I don't see where you are heading with that even as an issue separate from evolution.

Don't be afraid. You seem to understand the meaninglessness of setting conception as an arbitrary point for the beginning of life. Why is it so hard to see why professional biologists might not find meaning in a similar distinction with regard to evolution? Where does the micro/macro distinction help if we're talking about the same process?

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Arete    1152

Because evolution is a continuous process,  the scales on which it operates change incrementally, and evolutionary process can be observed at various scales.  The terms macro and micro evolution are used by evolutionary biologists to describe processes happening at different scales. 

However an important point of note is that the differences are a gradation of a continuous process - much like hours, days, weeks months and years are arbitrary categorizations of the passing of time.  In the context of creation debates, I think what people are trying to say is that macro and micro evolution describe the same process at different scales, and that the separation is arbitrary, rather than reflective of a genuine biological distinction - thus accepting one and not the other is like believing in weeks, but not years. 

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CharonY    1604

To address the creationist part, it is not so much that creationists introduced the term. Instead, they try to introduce qualitative difference to distinguish these two terms as different entities rather than the same processes on different scales. 

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On ‎8‎/‎24‎/‎2017 at 8:55 PM, Area54 said:

Many processes are subdivided depending upon scale. It can be a useful distinction. Melanism in peppered moths is on a different scale from the emergence of a new genus.

I'm afraid your second observation has lost me. Obviously conception is simply the continuation of life, not its beginning and equally sperm, ovum and zygote are all alive, so I don't see where you are heading with that even as an issue separate from evolution.

I did not say that creationists do not abuse the concept, I simply observed that they had not invented it.

The word genus is a human invention. We use it to help us understand the relationships between species because we have a brain that insists on categorizing things. Once one species evolves into two species the two species will rarely interact or interbreed. This reduces their relevance to one another and so we call them separate "species" so we can understand the "relationship" between them. When species diverge in such a way that they look to be too different from each other (to our eyes) we might say they are members of different genera (plural of genus) but there is no such concrete thing in nature. Specifying a form of evolution (macroevolution) for such a "stage" is meaningless because a genus is not real. All it means as a word is that mere mortal humans see these two groups of organisms as very different indeed. What happens to one species or set of species does not necessarily affect the other. They no longer have a relationship in the real world. Each evolves in a micro way with respect to the other individuals with which they do have actual relationships - there own species mates and perhaps occasionally a closely related species. Microevolution is real. Macroevolution is all in our heads.

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Area54    134
2 hours ago, Anthony Morris said:

. Macroevolution is all in our heads.

You noted that the word genus is a human invention. You overlooked the fact that the same is true of the word species. Classification systems are artificial throughout. They are there, as you noted, for our convenience, to aid understanding.

Evolution is real: microevolution and macroevolution are in our heads. Macroevolution is a term used by many researchers whose skills and knowledge are way above my pay grade. I suspect they are well above yours also.

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7 hours ago, Area54 said:

You noted that the word genus is a human invention. You overlooked the fact that the same is true of the word species. Classification systems are artificial throughout. 

Are you suggesting that the word species doesn't describe an actual thing in the real world? The word was invented to distinguish differing groups of individuals. There is a whole etymology behind the word that has been around for thousands of years as far as we know. We have always distinguished species the way we do now although we now also have more details to the process of naming a new species. The word genus is a fairly new word to designate a classification that compares relationships between and among species which is not a concept that existed much before Linneaus.

When a species evolves into two species those two species will no longer interbreed with much if any frequency. Once the genetic isolation is complete and they never interbreed again then their individual evolutionary paths are irrelevant to each other. The microevolutionary changes produced after they have become completely separate are often referred to as macroevolutionary change but that designation is spurious. All of said changes are still small changes made over numerous generations. 

I don't know who started using the terms microevolution and macroevolution but they are unnecessary. All evolution is microevolution (as defined by those who use the word microevolution) and macroevolution loses all definition from there and then microevolution becomes redundant since all evolution is microevolution. Some people use macroevolution to mean the large number of genetic changes between two groups but that hardly seems a significant reason to use the term and really seems to confuse the issue for many. 

 

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Area54    134
47 minutes ago, Anthony Morris said:

Are you suggesting that the word species doesn't describe an actual thing in the real world? Yes The word was invented to distinguish differing groups of individuals. There is a whole etymology behind the word that has been around for thousands of years as far as we know. We have always distinguished species the way we do now although we now also have more details to the process of naming a new species. The word genus is a fairly new word to designate a classification that compares relationships between and among species which is not a concept that existed much before Linneaus. Irrelevant.

When a species evolves into two species those two species will no longer interbreed with much if any frequency. Once the genetic isolation is complete and they never interbreed again then their individual evolutionary paths are irrelevant to each other. The microevolutionary changes produced after they have become completely separate are often referred to as macroevolutionary change but that designation is spurious. Mistaken viewpoint.  All of said changes are still small changes made over numerous generations. 

I don't know who started using the terms microevolution and macroevolution but they are unnecessary. Correct. You don't, because you clearly have a limited exposure to evolutionary literature. All evolution is microevolution (as defined by those who use the word microevolution) and macroevolution loses all definition from there and then microevolution becomes redundant since all evolution is microevolution. Some people use macroevolution to mean the large number of genetic changes between two groups but that hardly seems a significant reason to use the term and really seems to confuse the issue for many. This is your mistaken viewpoint.

I have indicated, in red,  which of those assertions you have made that are faulty. Obviously, this is not a rebuttal, simply a contrasting set of assertions. I shall deal with each of them in detail, with appropriate support, ASAP. Real world issues may delay this for up to one week. In the meantime thank you for your participation in this thread.

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Itoero    47
On ‎25‎-‎8‎-‎2017 at 2:04 AM, Area54 said:

microevolution and macroevolution

  • Were meaningless terms
  • Were avoided by professional biologists
  • Were introduced by creationists to enable them to explain away observed adaptation, but reject evolution of species

I view each of these positions as flawed (seriously flawed),

I completely agree. Those terms are used to 'categorize' evolutionary processes according to their time scale. In a sense, a macro evolutionary process exists out of micro evolutionary processes. It's all about the context they are in. The process that formed a Tamaskan dog out of several dog  breeds https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamaskan_Dog  you can call micro evolution and the process that formed a Tamaskan dog from a wolf is macro evolution.

Here you find info concerning the origin...it has nothing to do with creationists.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microevolution#Origin  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macroevolution#Origin_of_the_term

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Strange    2478
1 hour ago, Anthony Morris said:

When a species evolves into two species those two species will no longer interbreed with much if any frequency.

That is one definition of species, but not the only one. And it can work the other round: reproductive isolation can lead to speciation. 

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Itoero    47
1 hour ago, Anthony Morris said:

I don't know who started using the terms microevolution and macroevolution but they are unnecessary. All evolution is microevolution (as defined by those who use the word microevolution) and macroevolution loses all definition from there and then microevolution becomes redundant since all evolution is microevolution. Some people use macroevolution to mean the large number of genetic changes between two groups but that hardly seems a significant reason to use the term and really seems to confuse the issue for many. 

All evolution is not micro evolution. All evolution is evolution. 'micro' and 'macro' are prefixes used to note the time of an evolutionary process. There basically ends an infinite amount of micro and macro evolutionary processes every second.

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CharonY    1604
2 hours ago, Anthony Morris said:

Are you suggesting that the word species doesn't describe an actual thing in the real world? The word was invented to distinguish differing groups of individuals. There is a whole etymology behind the word that has been around for thousands of years as far as we know. We have always distinguished species the way we do now although we now also have more details to the process of naming a new species

 

2 hours ago, Anthony Morris said:

When a species evolves into two species those two species will no longer interbreed with much if any frequency.

 

But this is not true for asexually reproducing species, such as bacteria. Considering that this is how life started out, it is a rather large exception.

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Roamer    15

Macro-economics is about numbers and is mostly used to propagate political views/show that they're affordable,

it is NOT a hard science, it is mathmatics applied to assumptions.

Micro-economics deals with what people economically actually do, basically the exploration of the underlying assumptions of macro-economics.

Hence, micro and macro are actually two distinct concepts in econmics.

Now, in evolution i have no idea what would be macro... the calculation of how much bio-mass was available ??? making up different definitions of life ??

edit:it is my understanding that micro and macro are terms that came from economics and "flew "over to evolution.

Edited by Roamer
addition

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On ‎10‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 10:29 AM, Area54 said:

I have indicated, in red,  which of those assertions you have made that are faulty. Obviously, this is not a rebuttal, simply a contrasting set of assertions. I shall deal with each of them in detail, with appropriate support, ASAP. Real world issues may delay this for up to one week. In the meantime thank you for your participation in this thread.

I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

On ‎10‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 10:52 AM, Itoero said:

I completely agree. Those terms are used to 'categorize' evolutionary processes according to their time scale. In a sense, a macro evolutionary process exists out of micro evolutionary processes. It's all about the context they are in. The process that formed a Tamaskan dog out of several dog  breeds https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamaskan_Dog  you can call micro evolution and the process that formed a Tamaskan dog from a wolf is macro evolution.

Here you find info concerning the origin...it has nothing to do with creationists.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microevolution#Origin  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macroevolution#Origin_of_the_term

From the link you provided:

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microevolution#Origin

 

"Origin[edit]

The term microevolution was first used by botanist Robert Greenleaf Leavitt in the journal Botanical Gazette in 1909, addressing what he called the "mystery" of how formlessness gives rise to form.[52]

..The production of form from formlessness in the egg-derived individual, the multiplication of parts and the orderly creation of diversity among them, in an actual evolution, of which anyone may ascertain the facts, but of which no one has dissipated the mystery in any significant measure. This microevolution forms an integral part of the grand evolution problem and lies at the base of it, so that we shall have to understand the minor process before we can thoroughly comprehend the more general one...

However, Leavitt was using the term to describe what we would now call developmental biology; it was not until Russian Entomologist Yuri Filipchenko used the terms "macroevolution" and "microevolution" in 1927 in his German language work, "Variabilität und Variation", that it attained its modern usage. The term was later brought into the English-speaking world by Theodosius Dobzhansky in his book Genetics and the Origin of Species (1937).[1]

Use in creationism[edit]

See also: Speciation

In young Earth creationism and baraminology a central tenet is that evolution can explain diversity in a limited number of created kinds which can interbreed (which they call "microevolution") while the formation of new "kinds" (which they call "macroevolution") is impossible.[3][53] This acceptance of "microevolution" only within a "kind" is also typical of old Earth creationism.[54]

Scientific organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science describe microevolution as small scale change within species, and macroevolution as the formation of new species, but otherwise not being different from microevolution. In macroevolution, an accumulation of microevolutionary changes leads to speciation.[55] The main difference between the two processes is that one occurs within a few generations, whilst the other takes place over thousands of years (i.e. a quantitative difference).[56] Essentially they describe the same process; although evolution beyond the species level results in beginning and ending generations which could not interbreed, the intermediate generations could.

Opponents to creationism argue that changes in the number of chromosomes can be accounted for by intermediate stages in which a single chromosome divides in generational stages, or multiple chromosomes fuse, and cite the chromosome difference between humans and the other great apes as an example.[57] Creationists insist that since the actual divergence between the other great apes and humans was not observed, the evidence is circumstantial.

Describing the fundamental similarity between macro and microevolution in his authoritative textbook "Evolutionary Biology," biologist Douglas Futuyma writes,

One of the most important tenets of the theory forged during the Evolutionary Synthesis of the 1930s and 1940s was that "macroevolutionary" differences among organisms - those that distinguish higher taxa - arise from the accumulation of the same kinds of genetic differences that are found within species. Opponents of this point of view believed that "macroevolution" is qualitatively different from "microevolution" within species, and is based on a totally different kind of genetic and developmental patterning... Genetic studies of species differences have decisively disproved [this] claim. Differences between species in morphology, behavior, and the processes that underlie reproductive isolation all have the same genetic properties as variation within species: they occupy consistent chromosomal positions, they may be polygenic or based on few genes, they may display additive, dominant, or epistatic effects, and they can in some instances be traced to specifiable differences in proteins or DNA nucleotide sequences. The degree of reproductive isolation between populations, whether prezygotic or postzygotic, varies from little or none to complete. Thus, reproductive isolation, like the divergence of any other character, evolves in most cases by the gradual substitution of alleles in populations.

— Douglas Futuyma, "Evolutionary Biology" (1998), pp.477-8[2]

Contrary to the claims of some antievolution proponents, evolution of life forms beyond the species level (i.e. speciation) has indeed been observed and documented by scientists on numerous occasions.[58] In creation science, creationists accepted speciation as occurring within a "created kind" or "baramin", but objected to what they called "third level-macroevolution" of a new genus or higher rank in taxonomy. There is ambiguity in the ideas as to where to draw a line on "species", "created kinds", and what events and lineages fall within the rubric of microevolution or macroevolution.[59] "

The above seems to confirm my position as opposed to that of the OP. Microevolution's original use was with regard to development of the body from an egg. Creationists appear to have suborned the word with a differing definition. I have heard and read scientists use the word as well but I believe they are in error to use it at all.

 

 

On ‎10‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 10:53 AM, Strange said:

That is one definition of species, but not the only one. And it can work the other round: reproductive isolation can lead to speciation. 

Yes indeed. There are roughly 30 or so definitions for the word species. Some are more applicable for sexually reproducing species while others are more suitable for asexually reproducing species. Of course, there are also species that reproduce both ways.

 

On ‎10‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 11:24 AM, Itoero said:

All evolution is not micro evolution. All evolution is evolution. 'micro' and 'macro' are prefixes used to note the time of an evolutionary process. There basically ends an infinite amount of micro and macro evolutionary processes every second.

Nothing I've read including the wiki article above suggests that "time" is an element in the definitions of either. All evolution is indeed evolution. Micro and macro are prefixes that are added spuriously from what I've been reading. Now if that can be demonstrated to be false I'd like to read the article or whatever you have. 

On ‎10‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 0:08 PM, CharonY said:

 

 

But this is not true for asexually reproducing species, such as bacteria. Considering that this is how life started out, it is a rather large exception.

There are roughly 30 or so definitions for species. See above. Microevolution and macroevolution would not seem to be relevant here either although I might concede that some single-celled organisms share DNA between "species" and create new forms rather quickly. That could possibly be considered macroevolution. 

On ‎10‎/‎12‎/‎2017 at 0:21 PM, Roamer said:

Macro-economics is about numbers and is mostly used to propagate political views/show that they're affordable,

it is NOT a hard science, it is mathmatics applied to assumptions.

Micro-economics deals with what people economically actually do, basically the exploration of the underlying assumptions of macro-economics.

Hence, micro and macro are actually two distinct concepts in econmics.

Now, in evolution i have no idea what would be macro... the calculation of how much bio-mass was available ??? making up different definitions of life ??

edit:it is my understanding that micro and macro are terms that came from economics and "flew "over to evolution.

According to this article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microevolution#Origin

The terms originally entered use as a term in embryology and was later co-opted by Creationists. The use of micro and macro in economics may have merely been a co-option of the terms from embryology. There are similarities between economics and embryological development. When did economics start using the terms?

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Itoero    47
16 hours ago, Anthony Morris said:

The above seems to confirm my position as opposed to that of the OP. Microevolution's original use was with regard to development of the body from an egg. Creationists appear to have suborned the word with a differing definition. I have heard and read scientists use the word as well but I believe they are in error to use it at all.

In error? Scientists use it because it's a convenient word.

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3 hours ago, Itoero said:

In error? Scientists use it because it's a convenient word.

There is a difference between what is right and what is easy. Taking the easy route means that they give the word credence. Legitimizing the use the Creationists have been using. Science should strive for accuracy not convenience.

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Roamer    15
21 hours ago, Anthony Morris said:

According to this article:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microevolution#Origin

The terms originally entered use as a term in embryology and was later co-opted by Creationists. The use of micro and macro in economics may have merely been a co-option of the terms from embryology. There are similarities between economics and embryological development. When did economics start using the terms?

a little later according to wikipedia.

My main-concern is/was that most people have a rough idea what macro means due to hearing macro-economic numbers(BNP) (maybe this only counts for me?)

and i can easily see the terms get mixed/misunderstood( because it carries over the idea that evolution SHOULD and not COULD be divided in 2 parts)

Anyway i see from your info that that micro/macro-evolution is actually well-defined, so i won't propose a name-change.

 

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Itoero    47
2 hours ago, Anthony Morris said:

There is a difference between what is right and what is easy. Taking the easy route means that they give the word credence. Legitimizing the use the Creationists have been using. Science should strive for accuracy not convenience.

Don't you think scientists that study evolution are better suited to judge things like that? You are clearly filled with misconceptions due to creationists.

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On ‎10‎/‎14‎/‎2017 at 3:06 PM, Itoero said:

Don't you think scientists that study evolution are better suited to judge things like that? You are clearly filled with misconceptions due to creationists.

Scientists are human beings and like the rest of us are prone to mistakes and even laziness. It happens. Once a mistake gets out there, and especially so today with the internet at the ready, it tends to stick out there. That doesn't mean I am denigrating a scientist's work just the way he/she described the work. I make similar mistakes myself and have even used the words macroevolution and microevolution thereby giving Creationists the mistaken impression that I support the terminology. I usually use the terms when talking with Creationists and strive to not use them when discussing evolution in general. I usually now use them only when discussing how they are invalid ideas. If there are valid uses of the terms I have not heard them used that way. I would be very interested to find such uses and the definitions used as well as the context in which they occur. 

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