Biotic regulation of the environment

  • Anastassia M. Makarieva (Ecological Physics Group, Theoretical Physics Division, Petersburg Nuclear Physics Institute, Gatchina, Russia)
G3 10 (Lecture hall)


Competitive capacity of living organisms depends on two factors: their genetic information and the environmental conditions under which that genetic information encodes their functioning. When either genetics or environment changes randomly, the competitive capacity, if initially maximized, will most probably decline. Conversely, living organisms (or their coordinated structures) that exert control over their preferred environment preventing its spontaneous degradation can persistently enjoy high competitive capacity. Moreover, as far as the efficiency of natural selection for a given genotype also depends on environmental conditions, a stable environment allows for maximization of the selection efficiency and thus minimizes the probability of genetic degradation. According to the concept of the biotic regulation of the environment ( ), natural ecological communities of biological species stabilize their genetically encoded environment by compensating its random perturbations of both biotic and abiotic nature. Genetic and environmental stability are mutually guaranteed rather than arise by happenstance. In this talk we consider how this premise is reflected in key observed quantitative characteristics of oceanic and terrestrial life and its environment.

We also discuss how whether life regulates the environment or not is not an academic issue of little relevance to current global change problems. If the stability of the Earth’s environment favorable for life is maintained by natural ecosystems, then, even in the absence of direct environmental disturbances like e.g. carbon emissions, degradation of these regulatory mechanisms presents a major threat to the humanity, and the more so, the longer our species remains unaware of this fact. For the biosphere to preserve a global stabilizing function, the self-sustainable natural ecosystems must be globally protected from exploitation. The biota should be preserved not in biodiversity hotspots, advanced agricultural systems or zoos, but on large territories, such that the stabilizing power of these natural ecosystems would compensate the violation of natural processes that humans perform elsewhere.

Joint work with Andrei V. Nefiodov

1/7/19 3/18/20

Seminar Structure of Evolution

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Katharina Matschke

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