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Evolution in the blink of any eye?

Just read this article at Practical Fishkeeping Fish evolve quicker then you think. It made me think about what is a good definition of evolution? and how does it differ from adaptation? does it matter? For many Darwinist and creationist they terms matters a lot and they go to great lengths to specify exactly what they support (or don't). I can imagine that individuals on both side would argue at great length about this particular bit of research. Claiming it is either proof or a mini distraction.  

Personally this research chiefly makes me question how much things can change in the animal world under what kind of timescale. I can think of at least two examples where speedy adaptation would be a great help to a species survival (not sure how much adaptation would happen before it becomes a new species but that is a secondary point.) i am thinking about polar bears and coral reefs. Both are under threat from rising sea temperature (and possibly acidification). If they could adapt as quickly as the fish in the study we could have more hope for the future.

I am imagining a possible shift in wildlife preservation. Instead of only thinking about trying to preserve the natural current habitat should we also be thinking about what other natural environments could they species adapt to. The BBC did a fascinating programme about "the lost land of the tiger". this programme explored up the Himalayan mountains of Bhutan to find tigers living at higher altitudes then previously recorded. One conclusion from the programme was teh suggested that a new tiger reserve could be established at a high altitude then previously set up. This could provide corridors between lower level populations and help teh gene pools stay mixed and healthy. If human actions are driving tigers further into the wild making population adapt could we support this more in our preservation. 

If we encouraged adaptation could we preserve the wild populations and make space for them in other areas. Then if we ever manage to re-establish their original habitat. What I am imagining is if we encouraged and supported the growth of coral reefs in new locations that would support existing tropical corals in waters that with rising temperature will closely match they current home. Can we help coral species make the leap into new territory. For polar bears with the melting ice caps will some migrate south and start establishing other food sources? will they then come into competition with other predators. Can we help to try and create safe havens? 

The fate of many species will not be decided by one specific action by human either for or against them. The fate of many animals will be decided by their species ability to adapt. This fish research gives me hope and I wonder how we can help?


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