Principles of Animal Design: The Optimization and Symmorphosis Debate

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Animal species show great diversity in design as a result of their adaptation to different life conditions. Is their design optimized? Are animals built economically, with no more structure than that needed to perform their function, as the principle of symmorphosis predicts? There is considerable scientific controversy surrounding these questions because, although there is much evidence suggesting that animals are indeed well designed, evolutionary biology tells us that animals are not "engineered" but result from evolution by natural selection. In this book these highly controversial questions are debated by eminent experts on the basis of a wealth of evidence ranging from the molecular biology and biochemistry of enzyme systems through the study of bone and muscle to the design and function of integrated systems of energy supply and the nervous system. They are discussed from the point of view of physiology and morphology, as well as from that of evolutionary biology. A broad range of biologists interested in functional morphology, whether they are biochemists, physiologists, zoologists, or evolutionary biologists, will find this book a fascinating addition to the literature.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" in examples of how functionally integrated systems provide evidence for or against the theory of symmorphosis. It is, moreover, a useful source of data for those interested in issues of constraint and optimization in animal design." Evolutionary Anthropology
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521586672
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 11/28/2013
  • Pages: 314
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.71 (d)

Table of Contents

List of contributors
In memory of Charles Richard Taylor (1939-1995)
A life with animals: from cat to fish
1 Symmorphosis and optimization of biological design: introduction and questions 1
2 How much structure is enough? 11
2.1 Overview 11
2.2 Convergence as an analytical tool in evaluating design 13
2.3 Evolution of biological safety factors: a cost/benefit analysis 21
2.4 Symmorphosis and safety factors 28
3 Evolution of optimal systems 37
3.1 Overview 37
3.2 Conceptual and methodological issues in testing the predictions of symmorphosis 40
3.3 Testing the evolutionary origin and maintenance of symmorphosis 48
3.4 The concept of symmorphosis applied to growing birds 56
4 Bone design and biomechanics 63
4.1 Overview 63
4.2 Optimality in the design of bony elements 64
4.3 Optimization of musculoskeletal design - does symmorphosis apply? 70
4.4 Responses of bone to stress: constraints on symmorphosis 78
5 Muscles and locomotion 87
5.1 Overview 87
5.2 The malleability of skeletal muscle 89
5.3 Fine tuning the molecular motor of muscle 95
5.4 Matching muscle performance to changing to changing demand 103
5.5 Moving on land: optimizing for minimum cost 114
5.6 Optimization of cost of transport in swimming 121
6 Design of cells for metabolism 129
6.1 Overview 129
6.2 Molecular symmorphosis, metabolic regulation, and metabolons 131
6.3 Are protein isoforms requisite for optimizing regulation of ATP turnover rates? 140
6.4 Muscle energy balance in sound production and flight 147
6.5 Design of glycolytic and oxidative capacities in muscles 155
7 Lungs and gills for gas exchange 165
7.1 Overview 165
7.2 Limits of adaptation in pulmonary gas exchange 168
7.3 The lungs of the flying vertebrates - birds and bats: is their structure optimized for this elite mode of locomotion? 177
7.4 Gills of water-breathers: structures with multiple functions 186
7.5 Factors influencing the optimization of hemoglobin oxygen transport in fish 195
8 Nutrient supply system 203
8.1 Overview 203
8.2 The match between load and capacity during lactation: where is the limit to energy expenditure? 205
8.3 Optimization in design of the digestive system 212
8.4 How ruminants adapt and optimize their digestive system "blueprint" in response to resource shifts 220
8.5 Optimality in complex dynamic systems: constraints, trade-offs, priorities 230
9 Integrative systems for oxygen and fuel delivery 239
9.1 Overview 239
9.2 Symmorphosis and the mammalian respiratory system: what is optimal design and does it exist? 241
9.3 Adjusting maximal fuel delivery for differences in demand 249
9.4 The converging pathways for oxygen and substrates in muscle mitochondria 255
9.5 Fuel specialists for endurance 263
10 Design of nervous systems 269
10.1 Overview 269
10.2 The design of peripheral nerve fibers 271
10.3 Observing design with compound eyes 278
10.4 Evolution of a visual system for life without light: optimization via tinkering in blind mole rats 288
11 How good is best? Some afterthoughts on symmorphosis and optimization 299
Index 307
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