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03 - Struggle for Existence 03-02 - The Term, Struggle for Existence, used in a large sense 10 We will now discuss in a little more detail the struggle for existence. In my future work this subject will be treated, as it well deserves, at greater length.

The elder De Candolle and Lyell have largely and philosophically shown that all organic beings are exposed to severe competition.

In regard to plants, no one has treate this subject with more spirit and ability than W. Herbert, Dean of Manchester, evidently the result of his great horticultural knowledge.

Nothing is easier than to admit in words the truth of the universal struggle for life, or more difficult- at least I have found it so- than constantly to bear this conclusion in mind.

Yet unless it be thoroughly engrained in the mind, the whole economy of nature, with every fact on distribution, rarity, abundance, extinction, and variation, will be dimly seen or quite misunderstood.

We behold the face of nature bright with gladness, we often see superabundance of food; we do not see or we forget, that the birds which are idly singing round us mostly live on insects or seeds, and are thus constantly destroying life; or we forget how largely these songsters, or their eggs, or their nestlings, are destroyed by birds and beasts of prey; we do not always bear in mind, that, though food may be now superabundant, it is not so at all seasons of each recurring year.

bird
bird

insect
insect

seeds
seeds

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nestlings
03 - Struggle for Existence 03-02 - The Term, Struggle for Existence, used in a large sense 20 I should premise that I use this term in a large and metaphorical sense including dependence of one being on another, and including (which is more important) not only the life of the individual, but success in leaving progeny.

Two canine animals, in a time of dearth may be truly said to struggle with each other which shall get food and live.

canine
canine


But a plant on the edge of a desert is said to struggle for life against the drought, though more properly it should be said to produces a thousand seeds, of which only one of an average comes to maturity, may be more truly said to struggle with the plants of the same and other kinds which already clothe the ground.

The mistletoe is dependent on the apple and a few other trees, but can only in a far-fetched sense be said to struggle with these trees, for, if too many of these parasites grow on the same tree, it languishes and dies.

mistletoe
mistletoe

apple
apple


But several seedling mistletoes, growing close together on the same branch, may more truly be said to struggle with each other. As the mistletoe is disseminated by birds, its existence depends on them; and it may methodically be said to struggle with other fruit-bearing plants, in tempting the birds to devour and thus disseminate its seeds. In these several senses, which pass into each other, I use for convenience' sake the general term of Struggle for Existence.

mistletoe
mistletoe

bird
bird