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Profile: W. Ford Doolittle (Dalhousie University)
  1. W. Ford Doolittle (forthcoming). Making the Most of Clade Selection. Philosophy of Science 84.
    Clade selection is unpopular with philosophers who otherwise accept multilevel selection theory. Clades cannot reproduce, and reproduction is widely thought necessary for evolution by natural selection, especially of complex adaptations. Using microbial evolutionary processes as heuristics, I argue contrariwise, that (1) clade growth (proliferation of contained species) substitutes for clade reproduction in the evolution of complex adaptation, (2) clade-level properties favoring persistence – species richness, dispersal, divergence, and possibly intraclade cooperation – are not collapsible into species-level traits, (3) such properties (...)
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  2.  34
    W. Ford Doolittle (2014). Natural Selection Through Survival Alone, and the Possibility of Gaia. Biology and Philosophy 29 (3):415-423.
    Here I advance two related evolutionary propositions. (1) Natural selection is most often considered to require competition between reproducing “individuals”, sometimes quite broadly conceived, as in cases of clonal, species or multispecies-community selection. But differential survival of non-competing and non-reproducing individuals will also result in increasing frequencies of survival-promoting “adaptations” among survivors, and thus is also a kind of natural selection. (2) Darwinists have challenged the view that the Earth’s biosphere is an evolved global homeostatic system. Since there is only (...)
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  3.  25
    Austin Booth & W. Ford Doolittle (2015). Eukaryogenesis: How Special, Really? Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America:1-8.
    Eukaryogenesis is widely viewed as an improbable evolutionary transition uniquely affecting the evolution of life on this planet. However, scientific and popular rhetoric extolling this event as a singularity lacks rigorous evidential and statistical support. Here, we question several of the usual claims about the specialness of eukaryogenesis, focusing on both eukaryogenesis as a process and its outcome, the eukaryotic cell. We argue in favor of four ideas. First, the criteria by which we judge eukaryogenesis to have required a genuinely (...)
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  4.  7
    W. Ford Doolittle & Austin Booth (2017). It’s the Song, Not the Singer: An Exploration of Holobiosis and Evolutionary Theory. Biology and Philosophy 32 (1):5-24.
    That holobionts are units of selection squares poorly with the observation that microbes are often recruited from the environment, not passed down vertically from parent to offspring, as required for collective reproduction. The taxonomic makeup of a holobiont’s microbial community may vary over its lifetime and differ from that of conspecifics. In contrast, biochemical functions of the microbiota and contributions to host biology are more conserved, with taxonomically variable but functionally similar microbes recurring across generations and hosts. To save what (...)
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  5.  13
    W. Ford Doolittle (2013). Microbial Neopleomorphism. Biology and Philosophy 28 (2):351-378.
    Our understanding of what microbes are and how they evolve has undergone many radical shifts since the late nineteenth century, when many still believed that bacteria could be spontaneously generated and most thought microbial “species” (if any) to be unstable and interchangeable in form and function (pleomorphic). By the late twentieth century, an ontology based on single cells and definable species with predictable properties, evolving like species of animals or plants, was widely accepted. Now, however, genomic and metagenomic data show (...)
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  6. Austin Booth, Carlos Mariscal & W. Ford Doolittle (2016). Modern Synthesis is the Light of Microbial Genomics. Annual Reviews of Microbiology 70 (1):279-297.
  7.  11
    W. Ford Doolittle, Julius Lukeš, John M. Archibald, Patrick J. Keeling & Michael W. Gray, Insights & Perspectives. Bioessays 33:427 - 429.
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  8.  5
    W. Ford Doolittle (1984). Some Broader Evolutionary Issues Which Emerge From Contemporary Molecular Biological Data. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1984:129 - 144.
    The genome contains elements which are most easily understood as the products of selection operating at the level of the genome, without regard to phenotypic effect. The properties of such elements, and more general implications of molecular biological data, are discussed.
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  9.  11
    W. Ford Doolittle, Julius Lukeš, John M. Archibald, Patrick J. Keeling & Michael W. Gray (2011). Comment on “Does Constructive Neutral Evolution Play an Important Role in the Origin of Cellular Complexity?” DOI 10.1002/Bies. 201100010. [REVIEW] Bioessays 33 (6):427-429.
  10.  2
    W. Ford Doolittle (1988). Hierarchical Approaches to Genome Evolution. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 18 (sup1):101-133.
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  11.  4
    David R. Edgell & W. Ford Doolittle (1997). Archaebacterial Genomics: The Complete Genome Sequence of Methanococcus Jannaschii. Bioessays 19 (1):1-4.
  12. W. Ford Doolittle (1988). Hierarchical Approaches to Genome Evolution. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Supplementary Volume 14:101.
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