A basic, organizing pattern of life.
Cooperation among living organisms is at least as prevalent as competition. Mutual cooperation between life-forms and within natural communities is one of the driving forces of evolution. Is Darwin's idea of evolution driven by competition over-emphasized? Or is evolution, rather, based on co-operation, interaction, and mutual dependence among organisms?
- Consider this example: When a giraffe begins to browse acacia leaves, the tree immediately begins pumping alkaloids into all its leaves which make its leaves nasty-tasting and sickening. So the giraffe only gets to eat a few acacia leaves from that tree. Here is where the story gets interesting. When the acacia begins its chemical defense, it releases a signal into the air, and all of the acacia trees downwind of the injured tree immediately begin to pump their own leaves full of poison too. Giraffes, however, have found a way to browse acacias. They begin upwind and graze against the wind. They can still only get a few leaves from each tree before the leaves become too bitter, but as long as they work with the wind, they do get a meal. This relationship is co-evolved interliving. The cooperation here is real, and both members of this collaboration get what they need.
We believe that human beings can learn from and participate in such cooperative relationships. Join us as we allow ourselves to be broken down, and then to open our hearts as nature educates and inspires...
"The most inventive and novel of all schemes in nature, and perhaps the most significant in determining the great landmark events in evolution, is symbiosis, which is simply cooperative behavior carried to its extreme." - Lewis Thomas, in The Fragile Species