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On GaiaA Critical Investigation of the Relationship between Life and Earth$
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Toby Tyrrell

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691121581

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691121581.001.0001

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Good Citizens or Selfish Genes?

Good Citizens or Selfish Genes?

(p.14) Chapter 2 Good Citizens or Selfish Genes?
On Gaia

Toby Tyrrell

Princeton University Press

This chapter assesses whether Gaia arises predictably out of natural selection. It seems that natural selection leads to local regulation of environments only in certain circumstances: either inside or in the nearby environs of single organisms, or inside the living quarters of eusocial colonies, in which individual members are each very closely related. A general theme that emerges is that tight homeostatic regulation is associated with these “islands” of genetic uniformity or similarity. Tight cooperation and regulation of a communal environment only occurs between organisms that are closely related, although it is by no means guaranteed even then. This review of environmental regulation in nature therefore offers no obvious clues as to how regulation at a planetary scale could have been produced by or favored by natural selection.

Keywords:   Gaia, natural selection, single organisms, eusocial colonies, homeostatic regulations, genetic uniformity, genetic similarity, environmental regulation

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