Emergent structure in a stochastic model of ecological evolution
Nonequilibrium thermodynamic theory has much to offer in explaining ecological and evolutionary processes. Formalizing biological processes in terms of thermodynamic parameters reveals that the generation of natural organization and complexity is an emergent property of entropy in systems maintained far from equilibrium. Understanding the interplay between thermodynamics, ecology and evolution provides key insights into how underlying stochastic dynamics such as mutation and drift yield highly structured populations and communities. Here, a stochastic mathematical model of ecological evolution, the Tangled Nature Model, is utilized to explore the ecological dynamics and the emergence of structure that are so crucial to biology. The results of the model's simulations demonstrate that the punctuated equilibria successively generated by the model's dynamicshave increasing entropies, and that this leads to emergent order, organization, and complexity over time.