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Gaia and natural selection

Abstract

Evidence indicates that the Earth self-regulates at a state that is tolerated by life, but why should the organisms that leave the most descendants be the ones that contribute to regulating their planetary environment? The evolving Gaia theory focuses on the feedback mechanisms, stemming from naturally selected traits of organisms, that could generate such self-regulation.

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Figure 1: The effect of life on the Earth's atmosphere.
Figure 2: A hierarchy of environmental feedbacks.
Figure 4: The original Daisyworld model.
Figure 5: A simple model of biological amplification of weathering.
Figure 3: Model for mutating Daisyworld.

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Acknowledgements

I thank J. E. Lovelock and S. J. Lovelock for inspiration and support; J. E. Lovelock for earlier versions of the rock-weathering and mutating Daisyworld models; J. Maynard Smith and W. D. Hamilton for encouragement; J. R. Lenton, M. Whitfield, A. J. Watson, S. P. Harding, S. M. Turner, P. S. Liss, T. Tyrrell, C. Barlow and T. Volk for comments on the manuscript; UEA for a research studentship; the Gaia Charity for additional funding; and Plymouth Marine Laboratory for providing facilities.

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Lenton, T. Gaia and natural selection. Nature 394, 439–447 (1998). https://doi.org/10.1038/28792

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