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I wrote the following phrase in my scientific text:

X is ubiquitous in life of Y. On some occasions X might be detrimental, resulting, for example, in so so phenomena. But is it plausible that a function that takes 50% of organism resources would have only negative effects? The answer is likely "no" because such a function would have likely not survived the evolution.

But I was suggested that there a bug in my logic because if an adaptation is neutral and has no effect on reproductive fitness, it can be preserved. Would you agree with this critique? If so, how should I rephrase so that it become more correct?

Many thanks

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  • $\begingroup$ is it plausible that a function that takes 50% of organism resources would have only negative effects? It sounds highly unlikely that an organism would invest half of its ressources into doing something that will reduce its own fitness (I should say "inclusive fitness" to be safer here). A mutation that would lead to such trait would be highly deleterious and should not raise in too high frequency in the population (unless eventually if the population size is really really small). That being said a recent and sudden environmental change could eventually lead to this type of 'maladaptation'. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Oct 14 '18 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ On some occasions X might be detrimental, resulting, for example, in so so phenomena. Many traits can have environment dependent fitness effects and environmental heterogeneity can lead to strong variation in the trait's contribution to the individual fitness. Is this what you are referring to? $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Oct 14 '18 at 15:43
  • $\begingroup$ "would have only neutral and negative effects" would partly cover the critique, as it appears to me the argument hinges on the "50% of organism resources" which must have been previously firmly established. It would be helpful to add language emphasizing that such an enormous drain on an organism cannot plausibly survive long in a species since that drain, itself, is a huge negative effect on individual fitness and hence on reproductive fitness. $\endgroup$ – mgkrebbs Oct 14 '18 at 17:58
  • $\begingroup$ Can you please let know whether my comment seem to answer your question. I am unsure I really understand your question and your feedback would help. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Oct 14 '18 at 23:40
  • $\begingroup$ detrimental to what? Many adaptations are detrimental to an organisms but beneficial to their genes. Just look at social insects, or even your own somatic cells. $\endgroup$ – John Oct 15 '18 at 5:32

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