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Traditional ecological theory, as I understand it, tends to limit itself to the observable mechanistic reactions of complex feed back loops based on theories of interspeciate competition for resources, of which many of the species themselves are counted as predation moves up the chain. From your boom bust explanation, I'm confident you are familiar with the lemming population sine wave and the corresponding sine waves of their interrelated co species, but that whole explanation is based on observable mechanistic theories of predation. It's much more difficult to observe "intentional" interspeciate altruism, so altruism is a more difficult hypothesis to support, I suspect. But that does not mean it's not a valid question! Such questions have bearing when the underlying economic theories of our r-selection cultural mimic of free market neoliberalism are discussed, especially with adherents who view them as gospel.
The term "greed" implies to me a conscious intention, which I can easily overlook and focus on the functional elements the term describes, but for others I find it problematic, probably because it's laden with moral implications, so I personally tend to steer clear of it. I avoid it even when describing capitalism and the implied ontology of infinite growth in the need for an expanding of capital accumulation as a necessary part of the investment/production cycle in order for the system to persist. It's not steady state in theory. Very classic r-selected strategy, though.
The genius of Gaia as I see it is in the built in feedback loops in its systems that inevitably do limit the growth of the r-selected species, which seem inherently designed to get out of control when the opportunity arise, in any given eco system, no matter how "greedy" for resources. The most effective means for achieving growth when resources are available have many other inhibitors when the eco system is complex, and that implies to me much potential truth in your argument that:
K-selected species can be suboptimally greedy because of a genetic or habitual trait from critical times, and that can be useful on the long time scale. Of course, the art of long term survival must include dealing with "foolish" r-selected species. Living is a complicated problem - so the biological world is becoming more complicated while solving those problems. I think that cooperation and contribution to resilience pf environment must be important part of solutions against r-species. In this light, the Gaia hypothesis might become more interesting.
Good thoughts, I hope to explore this more. Thanks.
"I would pillow myself on the stream, for I'd like to cleanse my ears" - Sun Chu (218-293) Chinese recluse
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