Cite as:

Charles Goodnight, Erik Rauch, Hiroki Sayama, Marcus de Aguiar, Michel Baranger, and Yaneer Bar-Yam, Evolution in spatial predator-prey models and the "prudent predator:" The inadequacy of steady-state organism fitness and the concept of individual and group selection, Complexity 13: 23-44 (2008).


We review recent research which reveals: (1) how spatially distributed populations avoid overexploiting resources due to the local extinction of over-exploitative variants, and (2) how the conventional understanding of evolutionary processes is violated by spatial populations so that basic concepts, including fitness assignment to individual organisms, are not applicable, and even kin and group selection are unable to describe the mechanism by which exploitative behavior is bounded. To understand these evolutionary processes, a broader view is needed of the properties of multiscale spatiotemporal patterns in organism–environment interactions. We discuss measures that quantify the effects of these interactions on the evolution of a population, including multigenerational fitness and the heritability of the environment.

Press Release

Genes are inherited, but how about the environment? Children inherit many things from their parents, not only genes. New scientific results show that what a parent leaves to its children is important generally in evolution---and has implications for human survival in the future. Scientists at the New England Complex Systems Institute (NECSI) recently determined that current models of evolution are inadequate since they do not accurately account for how organisms interact with their environment. Published in the journal Complexity, the study introduces a new evolutionary concept to describe this interaction: environmental inheritance.