My dissertation is complete! An Ecological Approach to the Evolution of Complexity

My dissertation is complete! An Ecological Approach to the Evolution of Complexity

Two weeks ago I completed an intense summer of work and submitted my dissertation for the MSc in Evolutionary and Adaptive Systems. If all goes to plan, and there’s no reason why not, I will have my degree within the next month. The research turned out well, and may lead to some future developments. Here I’m publishing the text (minus the code appendix) and the abstract, for easier reading flavor. Enjoy! (I am for sure).

An Ecological Approach to the Evolution of Complexity

How evolution led to complex life is one of the great questions. This paper describes simulations that investigate the role of ecological interactions in the evolution of complexity. Webworld is a robust model of evolution in food webs. It is extended for variability of organism complexity under evolution. Statistical and network analysis indicates a clear tendency for complexification within the model, led by adaptations that initially disconnect the species from trophic interactions. This suggests a process where short term fitness is increased by less connection to the ecosystem, but long term fitness is insured by incorporation within the ecosystem. Certainly it suggests a greater role for ecosystems in the evolution of complexity.