Survival of the Systems

Timothy M.Lenton, Timothy A.Kohler, Pablo A.Marquet, Richard A.Boyle, Michel Crucifix, David M.Wilkinson, Marten Scheffer

Trends Ecol. Evol.

Recent theoretical progress highlights that natural selection can occur based solely on differential persistence of biological entities, without the need for conventional replication.

This calls for a reconsideration of how ecosystems and social (-ecological) systems can evolve, based on identifying system-level properties that affect their persistence.

Feedback cycles have irreducible properties arising from the interactions of unrelated components, and are critical to determining ecosystem and social system persistence.

Self-perpetuating feedbacks involving the acquisition and recycling of resources, alteration of local environmental conditions, and amplification of disturbance factors, enhance ecosystem and social system spread and persistence.

Cycles built from the by-products of traits, naturally selected at lower levels, avoid conflict between levels and types of selection.

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