Emission of detritus Organisms counteract change by physically modifying their surroundings eg. Thermo-regulation of nests Relocation Organisms move (or grow) into a new place eg. Invasion of a new habitat Organisms counteract change by moving to where the change is absent. eg. Seasonal migration Inceptive Counteractive The principal kinds of niche construction ( Odling-Smee et al, Niche construction, the neglected process in evolution. 2003. PUP. p.47.)
increases the fitness of the niche-constructing organisms Negative niche construction . . . decreases the fitness of the niche-constructing organisms Obligate niche construction (e.g.) a by-product of metabolism (e.g. detritus production) Facultative niche construction (e.g.) invest in an artifact (e.g. when payoff > cost)
niche construction RECIPROCAL CAUSATION (ii) Genetic inheritance plus ecological inheritance NICHE INHERITANCE (iii) A DIFFERENT “MENU” SET is about the evolution of organisms in response to environments NCT is about the evolution of organisms PLUS those changes in environments that are caused by the evolution of organisms
living organism . . . . . . ‘It feeds upon negative entropy’ attracting . . . a stream of negative entropy upon itself, to compensate the entropy increase it produces by living . . .” From “What is Life?” Originally published 1944. Quote from CUP edition 1967. p. 73.
negative entropy” (order) taken from their surrounding environments . . . . . . how can they possibly increase negative entropy, and increase eco-space . . . on earth . . . by living? . . . as has apparently happened
. . (i) Import energy and material resources that are relatively “rich” in free energy (e.g. food), from their environments (ii) Consume them (e.g. metabolism) (iii) Export degraded detritus, relatively “poor” in free energy (e.g. faeces), to environments Energy and matter resources = ecological resources, labelled Rp
diverse habitats of diverse organisms (e.g.) nutrients = potentially limited planetary resources relative to specific organisms (ii) Radiant energy Rp from the sun = potentially unlimited solar resources relative to (e.g.) photosynthesising organisms
(i) Not by chance. (ii) Organisms must interact with their environments by active non-random work. Organisms do non-random physical work that, temporarily and locally, opposes the 2nd law of thermodynamics . . . . . . by governing their inputs and outputs selectively relative to their environments
depends on adaptive “know how” Organisms cannot interact with their environments selectively without being informed by algorithmic information* = “know-how” Adaptive algorithmic information is an evolutionary resource labelled . . . Ri Ri is accumulated by evolving populations, primarily by natural selection, and is transmitted to developing organisms, primarily by genetic inheritance *(Chaitin, 1987. Algorithmic information theory. CUP)
environments, and with Ri by evolution, organisms can oppose the 2nd law of thermodynamics temporally and locally . . . . . . by actively concentrating Rp = “a stream of negative entropy” on themselves . . . . . . and live
“fuelled” by Rp from their environments, and “informed” by evolution, organisms can produce other highly improbable systems too by their Ri -informed, 2nd law-opposing work. (i) Fit organisms reproduce (ii) Some make artefacts (iii) All emit detritus and DOM (dead organic matter) Artefacts and detritus are much less improbable than offspring organisms . . . but they are also far from thermodynamic equilibrium
organisms . . . Reproduction* Constructing artefacts Emitting detritus and DOM$ . . . obeys the logic of NCT Each can change natural selection pressures, that feedback to populations of organisms via ecological inheritances, and select for different adaptive “know how”, or Ri *Normally we don’t think of reproduction as niche construction. But von Neumann did. He described how ‘universal construction machines’ make ‘copies’ in ‘natural automata’. (Automata Studies. 1956. PUP.) $ = by-product niche construction
each of these additional improbable products of the Ri -informed, 2nd law-opposing work of organisms . . . . . . affects ecospaces in ecosystems, temporarily and locally, by adding Rp (negentropy) to them In principle . . . it should therefore be possible for organisms to increase ecospace, and the carrying capacities (K) of environments, in ecosystems . . . . . . as well as to survive themselves . . . . . . with two provisos
(negentropy) to an environment may not benefit the population that adds it (e.g.) by increasing K for “self” On the contrary, it may reduce K for “self” That raises the question: Who benefits? What populations can or cannot benefit from any extra Rp that is added to ecosystems by the Ri informed, 2nd law-opposing work of organisms? Self? Other? No one yet?
Ri Only organisms that carry adaptive Ri relative to the specific Rp generated by the Ri-informed work of “self” or “other”. . . can benefit from it (ii) Ri is relative to prior natural selection (iii) Prior natural selection can be changed by niche construction (iv) Rp generated by Ri-informed organisms changes selective environments (v) Changed natural selection in environments feedbacks via ecological inheritance to select for different Ri in evolving populations
with relatives (shared Ri ) may increase K for self Competition with relatives may decrease K for self Increase in population size may increase K for others (e.g.) predators or parasites (different Ri ), but limit K for self (ii) Artefacts May increase K for self and for some other organisms (iii) Detritus Pollutes environment, and potentially decreases K for self May increases K for other organisms (e.g. detritivores) with different Ri Or . . . no one yet?
can oppose the 2nd law of thermodynamics, temporarily and locally, by concentrating Rp in their environments . . . . . . but they cannot violate the 2nd law The local addition of Rp (negentropy) to environments always costs an increase in entropy somewhere else (e.g.) The construction of artefacts depends on importing “useful” Rp from somewhere . . . and dumping “not useful” detritus somewhere
epigenetic inheritance I Human evolution - based on genetic & ecological inheritance, as in NCT Et Et+1 Natural selection Gene pool Culture Development Populations of diverse humans Gene pool Culture Development Including “cultural knowledge” and material culture Niche construction Natural selection Niche construction Ecological inheritance
construction modifies environments Route 1 Route 2 Cultural processes Cultural response No cultural response Gene pool Cultural niche construction Modified environments Culturally transformed natural selection Route 2a Changed genetic influences on cultural processes
occurs when inventions become economically or ecologically significant • Economic growth depends on repeated inputs of new technology K = an endogenous variable Growth in economics . . . invention & innovation Joseph Schumpeter (1883-1950) (Erwin, D.H. 2008. Macroevolution of ecosystem engineering, niche construction and diversity. TREE. 23. 304-310.)
than the power of the earth to produce subsistence for man” (From: An essay on the principle of population Chp 1. p.13) Esther Boserup (1910- 1999, anti-Malthusian agricultural economist) “The power of ingenuity would always outmatch that of demand” (In a letter to TS Hueston: philosopher) Ronald Lee (1986 demographer) “Boserup observes quite plausibly that the likelihood of technological advance rises in response to increasing population density” (Malthus and Boserup: a dynamic synthesis (1986. p,100) In A.Briggs, D. Coleman & R. Schofield. The state of population theory: forward from Malthus. Blackwell)
of technical innovation, not its cause. It does not precede it. (ii) Technical innovations generate pulses of increased resources, but human populations use up the bounty of each pulse by growing again, sometimes explosively, until . . . . . . they reach a limit set by a new K Richerson P.J. Boyd, R. and Bettinger, R.L. (2009). Cultural innovations and demographic change. Human Biology. 81. 211-235.
P.M. 1990. Endogenous technological change. J. Polit. Econ. 98.) Rivalrous goods (resources/products) are those that can only have one user at a time (e.g.) a bicycle Non-rivalrous goods are those that can have multiple users at any time (e.g.) computer software Excludable versus non-excludable goods differ in how easy it is for one user to exclude others (e.g.) a parking space, versus calculus Romer realised that growth in human economies ultimately depends on the invention of non-rivalrous, non-excludable goods. (e.g. the web) (Erwin, D.H. 2008. Macroevolution of ecosystem engineering, niche construction and diversity. TREE. 23. 304-310.)
1243-48 Too many people = N exploiting the same limited resource = Rp N . . . . not OK . . . . relative to K Intelligent solution ‘Cooperative’ management of the commons - seldom happens Unintelligent solution ‘Selfish’ mismanagement of the commons - often happens (e.g.) Overfished-fisheries
depends on interactions of exogenous and endogenous variables. (i) Biologists and economists are partly right. (ii) But both are partly wrong . . . and in opposing ways. For example Biologists often underestimate the capacity of endogenous variables (e.g.) niche construction, to modify K Economists often underestimate the capacity of exogenous variables to limit K
read for amusement Malthus on Population” Natural selection was derived from thinking about exogenous variables NCT adds the modification of natural selection by niche construction Niche construction was derived from thinking about endogenous variables NCT provides an interdisciplinary framework for investigating the interactions of exogenous and endogenous variables . . . . . . and for investigating K * From Darwin’s autobiography