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Evolution, Complexity, and Life History Theory

Veit, Walter and Gascoigne, Samuel J L and Salguero-Gómez, Rob (2023) Evolution, Complexity, and Life History Theory. [Preprint]

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Abstract

In this paper, we revisit the long-standing debate of whether there is a pattern in the evolution of organisms towards greater complexity, and how this hypothesis could be tested using an interdisciplinary lens. We argue that this debate remains alive today due to the lack of a quantitative measure of complexity that is related to the teleonomic (i.e. goal-directed) nature of living systems. Further, we argue that such a biological measure of complexity can indeed be found in the vast literature produced within life history theory. We propose that an ideal method to quantify this complexity lays within life history strategies (i.e., schedules of survival and reproduction across an organism’s life cycle), as it is precisely these strategies that are under selection to optimise the organism’s fitness. In this context, we set an agenda for future steps: (1) how this complexity can be measured mathematically, and (2) how we can engage in a comparative analysis of this complexity across species to investigate the evolutionary forces driving increases or for that matter decreases in teleonomic complexity.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Veit, Walterwrwveit@gmail.com0000-0001-7701-8995
Gascoigne, Samuel J L
Salguero-Gómez, Rob
Keywords: biological complexity; evolutionary trends; fitness; goal directedness; life history theory; life history complexity; optimality; teleonomy
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Biology > Function/Teleology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Systematics
Specific Sciences > Complex Systems
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Laws of Nature
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Depositing User: Dr. Walter Veit
Date Deposited: 01 Mar 2023 15:42
Last Modified: 01 Mar 2023 15:42
Item ID: 21810
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Developmental Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Biology > Function/Teleology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Systematics
Specific Sciences > Complex Systems
General Issues > Explanation
General Issues > Laws of Nature
General Issues > Models and Idealization
Date: 2023
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21810

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