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Stranger in a strange land: an optimal-environments account of evolutionary mismatch

Morris, Rick (2018) Stranger in a strange land: an optimal-environments account of evolutionary mismatch. [Preprint]

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Abstract

In evolutionary medicine, researchers characterize some outcomes as evolutionary mismatch. Mismatch problems arise as the result of organisms living in environments to which they are poorly adapted, typically as the result of some rapid environmental change. Depression, anxiety, obesity, myopia, insomnia, breast cancer, dental problems, and numerous other negative health outcomes have all been characterized as mismatch problems. The exact nature of evolutionary mismatch itself is unclear, however. This leads to a lack of clarity about the sorts of problems that evolutionary mismatch can actually explain. Resolving this challenge is important not only for the evolutionary health literature, but also because the notion of evolutionary mismatch involves central concepts in evolutionary biology: fitness, evolution in changing environments, and so forth.

In this paper, I examine two characterizations of mismatch currently in the literature. I propose that we conceptualize mismatch as a relation between an optimal environment and an actual environment. Given an organism and its particular physiology, the optimal environment is the environment in which the organism's fitness is maximized: in other words, the optimal environment is that in which the organism's fitness is as high as it can possibly be. The actual environment is the environment in which the organism actually finds itself. To the extent that there is a discordance between the organism's actual and optimal environments, there is an evolutionary mismatch. In the paper, I show that this account of mismatch gives us the right result when other accounts fail, and provides useful targets for investigation.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Morris, Rickjemorr@ucdavis.edu0000-0002-4011-1579
Keywords: Evolutionary mismatch, developmental mismatch, evolution, biology, mismatch, adaptation, environment
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Psychology > Evolutionary Psychology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Medicine
Depositing User: Rick Morris
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2018 01:18
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2018 01:18
Item ID: 14948
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Psychology > Evolutionary Psychology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Medicine
Date: 17 August 2018
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/14948

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