Eco-phenotypic physiologies: a new kind of modeling for unifying evolution, ecology and cultural transmission

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Panebianco, Fabrizio; Serrelli, Emanuele
conference paper description
Mathematical modeling can ground communication and reciprocal enrichment among fields of knowledge whose domains are very different. We propose a new mathematical model applicable in biology, specified into ecology and evolutionary biology, and in cultural transmission studies, considered as a branch of economics. Main inspiration for the model are some biological concepts we call “eco-phenotypic” such as development, plasticity, reaction norm, phenotypic heritability, epigenetics, and niche construction. “Physiology” is a core concept we introduce and translate differently in the biological and cultural domains. The model is ecological in that it aims at describing and studying organisms and populations that perform living, intended as a thermodynamic, matter-energy process concerning resources gathering, usage, and depletion in a spatiotemporal context with given characteristics, as well as with multiplication and space occupation. The model also supports evolution, intended as a dynamics including cumulative change in the features of unique organisms that are connected into breeding populations. The model is then applicable to the economics of cultural transmission in which individuals form their attitudes and patterns of behavior under a complex system of influences derived from their “cultural parents”, other members of the society, and the environment. On the side of biology, an innovative goal is to integrate in a single model all the eco-phenotypic concepts as well as both evolution and ecology. On the side of cultural transmission, eco-phenotypic modeling seems more appropriate in capturing some aspects of cultural systems which are modeled away in the earlier framework based on Mendelian population genetics.