Frank, S. A. 1997. Developmental selection and self-organization. BioSystems 40:237-243.

Developmental selection is the differential survival and proliferation of developmental units, such as cellular lineages. This type of internal selection has been proposed as an explanation for diverse examples of self-organization, from the wiring of brains to the formation of pores on leaf surfaces. A general understanding of developmental selection has been slowed by failure to understand its relationship to familiar forms of genetical selection and evolution. I show the formal analogies between models of developmental selection and genetical selection. The general method I outline for the analysis of selective systems partitions self-organizing selective systems into generative rules that create variation and selective filters that move the population toward a target design. The method also emphasizes aggregate statistical measures of evolving systems, such as the covariance between particular traits and fitness. The identification of useful aggregate measures is a crucial step in the analysis of selective systems. I apply these concepts to a model of self-organization in ant colonies.


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