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03 - Struggle for Existence 03-09 - Complex Relations of all Animals and Plants Throughout Nature 10 Many cases are on record showing how complex and unexpected are the checks and relations between organic beings, which have to struggle together in the same country.

I will give only a single instance, which, though a simple one, interested me.

In Staffordshire, on the estate of a relation, where I had ample means of investigation, there was a large and extremely barren heath, which had never been touched by the hand of man; but several hundred acres of exactly the same nature had been enclosed twenty-five years previously and planted with Scotch fir.

The change in the native vegetation of the planted part of the heath was most remarkable, more than is generally seen in passing from one quite different soil to another: not only the proportional numbers of the heath-plants were wholly changed, but twelve species of plants (not counting grasses and carices) flourished in the plantations, which could not be found on the heath.

heath
heath

Scotch Fir
Scotch Fir

cattle
cattle


The effect on the insects must have been still greater, for six insectivorous birds were very common in the plantations, which were not to be seen on the heath; and the heath was frequented by two or three distinct insectivorous birds.

Here we see how potent has been the effect of the introduction of a single tree, nothing whatever else having been done, with the exception of the land having been enclosed, so that cattle could not enter.

But how important an element enclosure is, I plainly saw near Farnham, in Surrey. Here there are extensive heaths, with a few clumps of old Scotch firs on the distant hilltops: within the last ten years large spaces have been enclosed, and self-sown firs are now springing up in multitudes, so close together that all cannot live.

When I ascertained that these young trees had not been sown or planted, I was so much surprised at their numbers that I went to several points of view, whence I could examine hundreds of acres of the unenclosed heath, and literally I could not see a single Scotch fir, except the old planted clumps.

But on looking closely between the stems of the heath, I found a multitude of seedlings and little trees which had been perpetually browsed down by the cattle. In one square yard, at a point some hundred yards distant from one of the old clumps, I counted thirty-two little trees; and one of them, with twenty-six rings of growth, had, during many years, tried to raise its head above the stems of the heath, and had failed.

No wonder that, as soon as the land was enclosed, it became thickly clothed with vigorously growing young firs.

Yet the heath was so extremely barren and so extensive that no one would ever have imagined that cattle would have so closely and effectually searched it for food.
03 - Struggle for Existence 03-10 - Struggle for Life most severe between Individuals and Varieties of the same Species 10 As the species of the same genus usually have, though by no means invariably, much similarity in habits and constitution, and always in structure, the struggle will generally be more severe between them, if they come into competition with each other, than between the species of distinct genera.

We see this in the recent extension over parts of the United States of one species of swallow having caused the decrease of another species.

United States
United States

swallow
swallow


The recent increase of the missel-thrush in parts of Scotland has caused the decrease of the song-thrush.

Scotland
Scotland

Missel Thrush
Missel Thrush

Song Thrush
Song Thrush
03 - Struggle for Existence 03-11 - The Relation of Organism to Organism the Most Important of All Relations 10 A corollary of the highest importance may be deduced from the foregoing remarks, namely, that the structure of every organic being is related, in the most essential yet often hidden manner, to that of all the other organic beings, with which it comes into competition for food or residence, or from which it has to escape, or on which it preys.

This is obvious in the structure of the teeth and talons of the tiger; and in that of the legs and claws of the parasite which clings to the hair on the tiger's body.

talon
talon

tiger
tiger

Head Louse Claw
Head Louse Claw


But in the beautifully plumed seed of the dandelion, and in the flattened and fringed legs of the water-beetle, the relation seems at first confined to the elements of air and
water.

dandelion
dandelion

flying seeds
flying seeds

Water Beetle
Water Beetle


Yet the advantage of plumed seeds no doubt stands in the closest relation to the land being already thickly clothed with other plants; so that the seeds may be widely distributed and fall on unoccupied ground.

In the water-beetle, the structure of its legs, so well adapted for diving, allows it to compete with other aquatic insects, to hunt for its own prey, and to escape serving as prey to other animals.
03 - Struggle for Existence 03-12 - Summary 10 It is good thus to try in imagination to give to any one species an advantage over another.

Probably in no single instance should we know what to do.

This ought to convince us of our ignorance on the mutual relations of all organic beings; a conviction as necessary as it is difficult to acquire.