A fitness based analysis of Daisyworld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Published copy (DOI)



Publication details

JournalJournal of theoretical biology
DatePublished - 21 Nov 2007
Issue number2
Number of pages8
Pages (from-to)190-197
Original languageEnglish


The Gaia hypothesis [Lovelock, J., Margulis, L., 1974. Atmospheric homeostasis: the Gaia hypothesis. Tellus 26, 1], that the earth functions as a self-regulating system, has never sat particularly comfortably with ideas in mainstream biology [Anon, 2002. In pursuit of arrogant simplicities. Nature 416, 247]. A lack of any clear role for evolution in the model has led to claims of teleology-that self-regulation emerges because it is pre-ordained to do so [Doolittle, W.F., 1981. Is nature really motherly? CoEvol. Q. 58-63; Dawkins, R., 1979. The Extended Phenotype. Oxford University Press, Oxford]. The Daisyworld parable [Watson, AJ., Lovelock, J.E., 1983. Biological homeostasis of the global environment-the parable of Daisyworld. Tellus B 35, 284], a simple mathematical illustration of Gaia, went some way to addressing these critiques but, despite recent success in incorporating natural selection [Stocker, S.,1995. Regarding mutations in Daisyworld models. J. Theor. Biol. 175, 495; Lenton, T.M., 1998. Gaia and natural selection. Nature 394, 439; Lenton, T.M., Lovelock, J.E., 2001. Daisyworld revisited: quantifying biological effects on planetary self-regulation. Tellus B 53, 288; Wood, AJ., Ackland, G.J., Lemon, T.M., 2006. Mutation of albedo and growth response leads to oscillations in a spatial Daisyworld. J. Theor. Biol. 242, 188], it remains a widely held view that the ideas are inconsistent with biological principles. We show that standard methodology from quantitative genetics can be used to predict the stationary states and dynamic behaviour of Daisyworlds. The system regulates its temperature due to the low-level evolutionary dynamics of competition between the thermally coupled daisies, no higher level principle is invoked. A reconciliation of Gaia with evolutionary theory may allow further development of evolutionary arguments for the existence of global self-regulatory systems. (C) 2007 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • fitness, Gaia, Daisyworld, phenotypic evolution, NATURAL-SELECTION, EVOLUTION, HOMEOSTASIS, MODELS, GAIA

Discover related content

Find related publications, people, projects, datasets and more using interactive charts.

View graph of relations