July 6, 2014

Carnivals and Toy Models

Two items of business (blog carnival and new paper announcements) in this post, neither of which involve carnival toys or any variant thereof. But keep reading anyway.

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Carnival of Evolution #73:

Time for another Carnival of Evolution. In this edition (#73) hosted by Pleiotropy blog, the theme is a tournament-style presentation based on the ongoing World Cup. This month’s Synthetic Daisies submission lost a close one early, and you will have to read CoE 73 to know who won the whole thing. Thanks go to BjornOstman for all of his work and the clever theme. Have an evolution-related blog post that needs publicizing? Please submit it to the CoE Facebook page.

Alicea, B. and Gordon, R.   Toy models for Macroevolutionary Patterns and Trends, Biosystems, 122, 25-37.

I invite you to take a look at a new paper by myself and Richard Gordon called "Toy Models for Macroevolutionary Patterns and Trends", out now in the journal Biosystems [1]. This will eventually be part of a special issue called "Patterns of Evolution". There is also a Github repository, which will house examples of toy models and other supplemental information. The paper reviews and/or describes 13 toy models, some pre-existing and others brand new examples. Toy models are representations that are intentionally oversimplified, used to approximate overarching trends while at the same time being sensitive to evolutionary context.

 The coupled avalanche model, an example of a macroevolutionary toy model.

We introduce 13 different toy models that cover a range of macroevolutionary phenomena such as the generation of diversity, the representation of lineages, and nonlinear evolutionary changes. There is also an undercurrent of meta-theory and why that is important to evolutionary theory-building.

The paper also provides examples of application domains, such as Artificial Life simulations and the analysis of high-throughput data. Toy models can also be used in tandem to approximate difficult evolutionary problems. While I do not want to give away too much of the details, I will say that the paper should prove useful to hard-core biologists, evolutionary modelers, bioinformaticians, and philosophers of science alike.

[1] the link provided might lead you beyond the Great Wall of Rentier. If you need a copy, e-mail me.

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