The wild duck lays from five to ten eggs; the tame one in the course of the year from eighty to one hundred. The wild grey-lag goose lays from five to eight eggs; the tame from thirteen to eighteen, and she lays a second time; as Mr. Dixon has remarked, "high-feeding, care, and moderate warmth induce a habit of prolificacy which becomes in some measure hereditary." Whether the semi-domesticated dovecote pigeon is more fertile than the wild rock-pigeon, C. livia, I know not; but the more thoroughly domesticated breeds are nearly twice as fertile as dovecotes: the latter, however, when caged and highly fed, become equally fertile with house pigeons. I hear from Judge Caton that the wild turkey in the United States does not breed when a year old, as the domesticated turkeys there invariably do. The peahen alone of domesticated birds is rather more fertile, according to some accounts, when wild in its native Indian home, than in Europe when exposed to our much colder climate. (16/33. For the eggs of Gallus bankiva see Blyth in 'Annals and Mag. of Nat. Hist.' 2nd series volume 1 1848 page 456. For wild and tame ducks Macgillivray 'British Birds' volume 5 page 37; and 'Die Enten' s. 87. For wild geese L. Lloyd 'Scandinavian Adventures' volume 2 1854 page 413; and for tame geese 'Ornamental Poultry' by Rev. E.S. Dixon page 139. On the breeding of Pigeons Pistor 'Das Ganze der Taubenzucht' 1831 s. 48; and Boitard and Corbie 'Les Pigeons' page 158. With respect to peacocks, according to Temminck 'Hist. Nat. Gen. des Pigeons' etc. 1813 tome 2 page 41, the hen lays in India even as many as twenty eggs; but according to Jerdon and another writer quoted in Tegetmeier 'Poultry Book' 1866 pages 280, 282, she there lays only from four to nine or ten eggs: in England she is said, in the 'Poultry Book' to lay five or six, but another writer says from eight to twelve eggs.)

With respect to plants, no one would expect wheat to tiller more, and each ear to produce more grain, in poor than in rich soil; or to get in poor soil a heavy crop of peas or beans. Seeds vary so much in number that it is difficult to estimate them; but on comparing beds of carrots in a nursery garden with wild plants, the former seemed to produce about twice as much seed. Cultivated cabbages yielded thrice as many pods by measure as wild cabbages from the rocks of South Wales. The excess of berries produced by the cultivated asparagus in comparison with the wild plant is enormous. No doubt many highly cultivated plants, such as pears, pineapples, bananas, sugar-cane, etc., are nearly or quite sterile; and I am inclined to attribute this sterility to excess of food and to other unnatural conditions; but to this subject I shall recur.]

In some cases, as with the pig, rabbit, etc., and with those plants which are valued for their seed, the direct selection of the more fertile individuals has probably much increased their fertility; and in all cases this may have occurred indirectly, from the better chance of some of the numerous offspring from the more fertile individuals having been preserved. But with cats, ferrets, and dogs, and with plants like carrots, cabbages, and asparagus, which are not valued for their prolificacy, selection can have played only a subordinate part; and their increased fertility must be attributed to the more favourable conditions of life under which they have long existed.

CHAPTER 2.XVII.

ON THE GOOD EFFECTS OF CROSSING, AND ON THE EVIL EFFECTS OF CLOSE INTERBREEDING.

DEFINITION OF CLOSE INTERBREEDING. AUGMENTATION OF MORBID TENDENCIES. GENERAL EVIDENCE OF THE GOOD EFFECTS DERIVED FROM CROSSING, AND ON THE EVIL EFFECTS FROM CLOSE INTERBREEDING. CATTLE, CLOSELY INTERBRED; HALF-WILD CATTLE LONG KEPT IN THE SAME PARKS. SHEEP. FALLOW-DEER. DOGS, RABBITS, PIGS. MAN, ORIGIN OF HIS ABHORRENCE OF INCESTUOUS MARRIAGES. FOWLS. PIGEONS. HIVE-BEES. PLANTS, GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS ON THE BENEFITS DERIVED FROM CROSSING. MELONS, FRUIT-TREES, PEAS, CABBAGES, WHEAT, AND FOREST-TREES. ON THE INCREASED SIZE OF HYBRID PLANTS, NOT EXCLUSIVELY DUE TO THEIR STERILITY. ON CERTAIN PLANTS WHICH EITHER NORMALLY OR ABNORMALLY ARE SELF-IMPOTENT, BUT ARE FERTILE, BOTH ON THE MALE AND FEMALE SIDE, WHEN CROSSED WITH DISTINCT INDIVIDUALS EITHER OF THE SAME OR ANOTHER SPECIES. CONCLUSION.

The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication V2 Page 60

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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