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Directionality Theory and the Entropic Principle of Natural Selection

Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA
Max-Planck-Institute for Molecular Genetics, Berlin 14195, Germany
Fachbereich MNI, THM University of Applied Science, Wiesenstr. 14, Gießen 35390, Germany
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Entropy 2014, 16(10), 5428-5522;
Received: 30 January 2013 / Revised: 13 August 2014 / Accepted: 15 September 2014 / Published: 20 October 2014
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Darwinian fitness describes the capacity of an organism to appropriate resources from the environment and to convert these resources into net-offspring production. Studies of competition between related types indicate that fitness is analytically described by entropy, a statistical measure which is positively correlated with population stability, and describes the number of accessible pathways of energy flow between the individuals in the population. Directionality theory is a mathematical model of the evolutionary process based on the concept evolutionary entropy as the measure of fitness. The theory predicts that the changes which occur as a population evolves from one non-equilibrium steady state to another are described by the following directionality principle–fundamental theorem of evolution: (a) an increase in evolutionary entropy when resource composition is diverse, and resource abundance constant; (b) a decrease in evolutionary entropy when resource composition is singular, and resource abundance variable. Evolutionary entropy characterizes the dynamics of energy flow between the individual elements in various classes of biological networks: (a) where the units are individuals parameterized by age, and their age-specific fecundity and mortality; where the units are metabolites, and the transitions are the biochemical reactions that convert substrates to products; (c) where the units are social groups, and the forces are the cooperative and competitive interactions between the individual groups. % This article reviews the analytical basis of the evolutionary entropic principle, and describes applications of directionality theory to the study of evolutionary dynamics in two biological systems; (i) social networks–the evolution of cooperation; (ii) metabolic networks–the evolution of body size. Statistical thermodynamics is a mathematical model of macroscopic behavior in inanimate matter based on entropy, a statistical measure which describes the number of ways the molecules that compose the a material aggregate can be arranged to attain the same total energy. This theory predicts an increase in thermodynamic entropy as the system evolves towards its equilibrium state. We will delineate the relation between directionality theory and statistical thermodynamics, and review the claim that the entropic principle for thermodynamic systems is the limit, as the resource production rate tends to zero, and population size tends to infinity, of the entropic principle for evolutionary systems. View Full-Text
Keywords: Malthusian parameter; evolutionary entropy; Gibbs-Boltzmann entropy; metabolic rate; origin of life Malthusian parameter; evolutionary entropy; Gibbs-Boltzmann entropy; metabolic rate; origin of life
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Demetrius, L.A.; Gundlach, V.M. Directionality Theory and the Entropic Principle of Natural Selection. Entropy 2014, 16, 5428-5522.

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