Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection: Or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life

By Charles Darwin | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER III
STRUGGLE FOR EXISTENCE

Its bearing on natural selection--The term used in a wide sense--Geometrical ratio of increase--Rapid increase of naturalized animals and plants--Nature of the checks to increase--Competition universal-- Effects of climate--Protection from the number of individuals--Complex relations of all animals and plants throughout nature--Struggle for life most severe between individuals and varieties of the same species: often severe between species of the same genus--The relation of organism to organism the most important of all relations

BEFORE entering on the subject of this chapter, I must make a few preliminary remarks, to show how the struggle for existence bears on Natural Selection. It has been seen in the last chapter that among organic beings in a state of nature there is some individual variability: indeed I am not aware that this has ever been disputed. It is immaterial for us whether a multitude of doubtful forms be called species or sub- species or varieties; what rank, for instance, the two or three hundred doubtful forms of British plants are entitled to hold, if the existence of any well-marked varieties be admitted. But the mere existence of individual variability and of some few well-marked varieties, though necessary as the foundation for the work, helps us but little in understanding how species arise in nature. How have all those exquisite adaptations of one part of the organization to another part, and to the conditions of life, and of one organic being to another being, been

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