had great diffi culty fi nding a title for this book. For long, the working title was
Genetic Variation and Extinction. However, this title implies a causal and simple
relationship between genetic variation and extinction. I do think that the study
of genetic variation is extremely important for conservation biology but, as will
become apparent while reading the text, I am not as sure that this relationship is
as simple and straightforward as I thought when I began this voyage.
This monograph has been prepared as my doctoral thesis in Economics
at the Institute of Mathematical Economics (IMW), Bielefeld University,
Germany. The dissertation has been accepted by the Department
of Business Administration and Economics (Examiners: Prof. Dr. Walter
Trockel and Prof. em. Dr. Joachim Rosenm¨uller). It has successfully
been defended on June 13, 2007.
With this work I strive to complement the recent literature on the
evolution of preferences by investigating the non-expected utility case.
I have divided the book into seven chapters....
Life on Earth originated and then evolved from a universal common ancestor approximately 3.7 billion years ago. Repeated speciation and the divergence of life can be inferred from shared sets of biochemical and morphological traits, or by shared DNA sequences. These homologous traits and sequences are more similar among species that share a more recent common ancestor, and can be used to reconstruct evolutionary histories, using both existing species and the fossil record. Existing patterns of biodiversity have been shaped both by speciation and by extinction....
The relationship between the manufacturers of electronic components and the
assemblers of electronic circuitry resembles that between two different orders of
living beings, for example insects and plants: they need one another to be able to
exist, and for that reason there are close links between the evolutionary paths of
both. The shapes and the dimensions of their bodies, or respectively their functions,
must match one another, so that whatever is needed to ensure the survival of either
species can be properly performed. Any mistakes or mismatches are punished by
Paleontologists estimate that 99% of all species that ever existed have vanished
from the planet. To understand the process of extinction, paleontologists have
measured the lifetime of species—especially species that leave lots of fossils
behind. Mollusks (a group of invertebrates that includes snails and clams) leave
some of the most complete fossil records of any animal.
Michael Foote, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Chicago, and his col-
leagues inventoried fossils of mollusks that lived in the ocean around New Zealand
over the past 43 million years.
One of the most influential studies of the pace of evolutionary change was pub-
lished in 1971 by two young paleontologists at the American Museum of Natural
History named Niles Eldredge and Stephen Jay Gould. They pointed out that the
fossils of a typical species showed few signs of change during its lifetime. New
species branching off from old ones had small but distinctive differences.
Eldredge carefully documented this stasis in trilobites, an extinct lineage of
armored arthropods. He counted the rows of columns in the eyes of each sub-