Applying Evolutionary Meta-Strategies to Human Problems
Classes of evolutionary strategy are rarely explored, as such strategies are thought to be either highly species-specific or clearly resulting from competitive selection. But are we missing the lessons a deeper theory of evolutionary strategy provides – lessons that could help solve the global problems facing humanity? We discuss the means to such solutions through a neural-derived network approach to modeling highly detailed species-ecosystem interactions (Gremillion and Brown, An ecosystem network model for human ecological interactions. Ecological Society of America Abstracts, 86th Meeting: ID=28381, 2001) including Homo sapiens and its impacts, into ecocircuitry networks. This model identifies a set of underlying evolutionary meta-strategies that govern intrinsic strategic drivers in all organisms and potentially systems from tribes to corporations.
This approach also yields a methodology for analyzing higher-order network impacts, providing a path to address unintended consequences, and high-order network costs/benefits.
Ecocircuitry network models incorporate flows of energy, material, services, and information through many classes of inputs and outputs both biotic (living) and abiotic. We posit that the population size of any species varies with the convergence of its network interactions. To be sustainable over evolutionary time, a species or population must be relatively balanced in its positive (beneficial) and negative (detrimental) connections, or risk extinction.
Species actively manipulate their ecosystem’s circuitry through a clearly defined set of evolutionary meta-strategies, in which all species differentially alter the (1) number and (2) magnitude of both beneficial and detrimental flows while seeking to (3) decrease the variance of all flows, for stability and predictability are stabilizing. Taken together these strategies alone can change the balance of positive and negative network connections and thus population/success rates. But indirect “meta-strategies” are even more powerful and include externalizing costs, physical and other tool- and infrastructure-building, and novel strategy combinations.
We illustrate these classes of evolutionary strategies with examples from many species, as well as innovative human meta-strategies that have led to unintended consequences both beneficial and problematic. We further examine how a more encompassing ecocircuitry approach, which includes impacts of humans and their institutions, illuminates useful meta-strategies for solutions in a rapidly changing world.
KeywordsEcocircuitry Darwinian algebra Double-binary network model Complexity Ecological network Species-ecosystem network Evolutionary strategy Meta-strategy Multivalent flows Ecosystem dynamics Functional ecology Neuron Nonlinear dynamics Ecology Species Neural circuitry Cost-benefit analysis Optimization Food webs Abiotic
The author would like to thank E. Todd Hochman for his interdisciplinary brainstorming and assistance in graphics design; Professor James H. Brown for his in-depth collaboration on the initial model; Professor Astrid Kodric-Brown for her valuable collaboration on information flows and honeybee systems; John Smart, for his beneficial comments; the Hitchings-Elion Fellowship that funded some of the initial neuroscience thinking that led to this model; and the Department of Biology, UNM, ABQ for their essential support.
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