Emergent structure in a stochastic model of ecological evolution

Ty N.F. Roach, James Nulton, Paolo Sibani, Forest Rohwer, Peter Salamon

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Nonequilibrium thermodynamic theory has much to offer in explaining ecological and evolutionary processes.
Formalizing biological processes in terms of thermodynamic parameters reveals that the generation of natural
organization and complexity is an emergent property of entropy in systems maintained far from equilibrium.
Understanding the interplay between thermodynamics, ecology and evolution provides key insights into how underlying
stochastic dynamics such as mutation and drift yield highly structured populations and communities.
Here, a stochastic mathematical model of ecological evolution, the Tangled Nature Model, is utilized to explore
the ecological dynamics and the emergence of structure that are so crucial to biology. The results of the model's
simulations demonstrate that the punctuated equilibria successively generated by the model's dynamics have increasing
entropies, and that this leads to emergent order, organization, and complexity over time.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEcological Modelling
Issue numberJune
Pages (from-to)129-133
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Complexity
  • Ecological succession
  • Entropy
  • Evolution
  • Oganization
  • Order

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