Darwinizing Gaia

J Theor Biol. 2017 Dec 7;434:11-19. doi: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2017.02.015. Epub 2017 Feb 22.


The Gaia hypothesis of James Lovelock was co-developed with and vigorously promoted by Lynn Margulis, but most mainstream Darwinists scorned and still do not accept the notion. They cannot imagine selection for global stability being realized at the level of the individuals or species that make up the biosphere. Here I suggest that we look at the biogeochemical cycles and other homeostatic processes that might confer stability - rather than the taxa (mostly microbial) that implement them - as the relevant units of selection. By thus focusing our attentions on the "song", not the "singers", a Darwinized Gaia might be developed. Our understanding of evolution by natural selection would however need to be stretched to accommodate differential persistence as well as differential reproduction.

Keywords: Biogeochemical cycle; Evolution by natural selection; Global homeostasis; Persistence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biological Evolution*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Homeostasis*
  • Models, Biological
  • Reproduction
  • Selection, Genetic*