Archive for November 2017

Speciation or formation of new species is of a great concern to evolutionary biologists. At all times, scientists wondered how it happened that so many new species appeared on the planet. Yet before people could have a clue about genetics and heredity, Darwin presented his book On the Origin of Species (1859). According to Darwin, evolution was the result of natural selection. It was thought to be very long and durable process so that researchers looked for more evidence. In the era of genetics, the theory of Modern Synthesis introduced mutation and recombination as means of species formation (the 1930s). A decade later, the study of barriers to reproduction became popular. It said, there must be hurdles for mating for new species to emerge. In the 1990s, the mechanisms of speciation were reconsidered and it acquired ideas such as ecological speciation, sexual selection, genetic drift, and mutation-order speciation.
Processes of microevolution make the basis for us to understand these complex ideas that biologists and genetics developed over the 20th century. New species form as old species change their genes in some ways. Mutation, gene flow, genetic drift, and natural selection are considered to ensure species change their genes. Some genes randomly mutate and then can be passed to offspring. The interchange of genes is especially fast when carriers of these genes migrate. Genetic drift explains why offspring have more diversified genetic makeup than their parents. And natural selection is the old Darwin’s idea that only the species that best suit for survival can survive and reproduce.

Evolution of species has a lot to do with natural selection. Organisms with different phenotypes have different chances for survival in a particular environment. Some species are better suited to survive in hot conditions, other species are better suited to the cold environment. Naturally, they cannot exist side by side, because the natural selection has smartly chosen which genes are preferable on a particular territory.
Selective pressure is an inevitable part of natural selection. To be precise, there are dozens of pressures that make species die out, mutate, develop new traits essential to survive. Native African people, for example, never have a fair skin, and desert plants are always meant to store a lot of water in their cells. Obviously, only dark-skinned people are well-equipped to survive in the equatorial area. In course of evolution, water-rich succulents have outlived many plants that were not meant to survive with little water under the blazing sun.
Interestingly, the immune system is a strong selective pressure to pathogenic organisms. Some of them have phenotypes that make them highly resistant to the host’s immune reaction, which makes bacteria and viruses mutate. This way some pathogens can disguise themselves within the host, which makes them difficult to find or fight.
Climate, food, predators, diseases, and human influence are typical selective pressures. They urge organisms to move, transform, or die out – the fierce law of wild nature. When humans are better prepared to resist absolutely any trouble from within, animals are defenseless, and that makes natural selection work.

The hierarchical structure of management is common to multiple big and small organizations. They look like pyramids with CEOs at the top of it. Every person in the organization subordinates to someone else, therefore, every worker in the middle of the pyramid has their bosses and subordinates. Non-profits do not stay aside. Hierarchical structure helps them maintain a status quo, which brings them stability. Today many organizations consider it a weakness, but environmental organizations take status quo as an essential feature to prove their viability.
Having a virtuous CEO, non-profits get more chances for funding. Conservation groups usually struggle to find the resources they need, and they cannot attract donors if they look too risky to potential investors. A flat structure brings disorganization, especially when applied to a big company. Being very innovative is good for small startups, but organizations collecting big money for conservation of wildlife have to have a clear management and flawless reputation. A hierarchical management suits best such purpose.
Apparently, conservation organizations do their best to remain attractive to investors. But preserving the wildlife depends on more factors such as legislation, local involvement, poor planning and vague goals put by conservation groups. They often need common efforts to take actions but eventually cannot get them. We all live in the same environment and have our own ambitions to what nature can bring us. Conservation organizations, in their turn, do not have a superpower to stop legislative negligence, industrial abuse, and illegal actions of individuals. Most likely, the type of organization has nothing to do with it.

Ecosystem functions are changed by industrial evolution and human involvement in the first place. They encompass all the biological, geochemical, and physical processes that take place in the ecosystem. Ecosystem functions range from regulating gas-formation within the atmosphere to providing comfortable living conditions to species and precious raw materials to humans. No wonder, ecosystems do not need a human intervention to function perfectly. But eventually, everything that we do prevents natural unities from supporting species and their habitat.
Climate change is a very global effect of human activity. The critical amount of greenhouse gasses filling the atmosphere made climate unpredictable and ecosystems – defenseless. Rising sea level moves amphibians and other species further into the continent. Tsunamis and storms destroy what once has been a coastal ecosystem. Animals are vulnerable to extreme weather conditions, just like humans. Floods and fires push animals that remain alive out of their habitat.
Decades ago, the regulatory function of ecosystems allowed them to keep the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere on a decent level. Green plants could take in some CO2 and release some oxygen instead. Besides, the extensive green mass of trees protected ecosystems from overheating. Today the amount of green plants has shrunk so much that fresh water sources dry out and species become extinct.
With all the respect to ecosystems they can provide, humans keep extracting non-renewable natural resources. But it would be very logical to suggest that such resources would one day deplete. It means that we are not smarter than nature. Once it can provide little for its wold species, it can hardly save humans from the crisis.

Looking at the list of mental health professionals, we easily get confused. How are psychiatrists and psychologists different? And what about a licensed mental health counselor? Besides, why does mental health care need social workers if that many specialists work in the field so far? Just as every physician practices in their own subfield, every mental health practitioner has their area of responsibility too.
Psychiatrists have a Doctor of Medicine degree and several years of medical practice at the very least. They are authorized to prescribe psychotropic drugs and capable to differentiate mental health problems from underlying medical conditions with similar symptoms. Psychiatrists work with patients who have severe mental conditions. Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, borderline personality disorder, anxiety, and stress-related disorders are all the expertise of a psychiatrist.
A psychologist has a doctoral degree in psychology that does not bring them as much responsibility as medical doctors have. Licensed psychologists do counseling and psychotherapy, though they neither write prescriptions nor perform medical procedures. That is why, they often work with doctors who can prescribe medications for patients with depression, anxiety, suicidal behavior, ADHD – the main concerns of a psychologist.
A mental health counselor is authorized to treat mental disorders with counseling or psychotherapy. They gave only a master’s degree in psychology but they also need a few years of practice with a qualified mental health professional to get a license after school.