My work is once again giving me some food for thought.
As my seasoned readers should know by now, I do research on mussel beds, and one of my lines of research, in short, concerns the understanding of how do mussel beds survive and sustain themselves over the years, with healthy populations made of young and older mussels in proportion that will keep the reef healthy and productive.
Mussels have this particular way of aggregating themselves into clumps, attaching to each other with some filamentous threads made of proteins (called byssi, or byssal threads). This clump formation, also known as self-organisation, helps the mussels survive from risks of predation and dislodgement, allowing beds to persist overtime, and new recruits to attach to the bed from their planktonic stage and grow thicker shells while being protected from predators and negative environmental conditions. Of course, this behaviour does not only come with positive effects, but it does come with a compromise: a little bit of competition for food supplies! However, as beds do exist and this aggregative behaviour is displayed, it must be that the benefits outweigh the disadvantages, at least in some cases and scenarios.
Cooperative behaviours are observed throughout most of the natural world - from animals to plants, microbes, cells, genes... Both between same species and between different species.
And then you open the newspaper, and you read about bomb-threats, immigrants being sent back to war places and being negated aid, countries leaving international accords trying to get selfish deals..
Even looking at smaller scales, people are less likely to help each other in difficult situations and selfishness tends to rule many societies.
Which makes me think - as humans, have we lost all sense of our innate cooperation?
Rubenstein, D. & Kealey, J. (2010) Cooperation, Conflict, and the Evolution of Complex Animal Societies. Nature Education Knowledge 3(10):78
Bertolini, C., Geraldi, N. R., Montgomery, W. I., & O'Connor, N. E. (2017). Substratum type and conspecific density as drivers of mussel patch formation. Journal of Sea Research, 121, 24-32.
de Jager, M., Weissing, F. J., & van de Koppel, J. (2017). Why mussels stick together: spatial self-organization affects the evolution of cooperation. Evolutionary Ecology, 1-12.
Also check this site for some great mussel movement videos etc
Disclaimer: some posts may contain affiliate links. At no extra costs to you, buying through the link will help me in this blogging journey!