Meeting: Working Group

Evolutionary mismatch and what to do about it

Date18-Nov-2011 ~ 20-Nov-2011
ProjectEvolutionary mismatch and what to do about it
SummaryNatural selection adapts organisms to their past environments and has no ability to foresee the future. When the environment changes, adaptations to past environments can misfire in the current environment, producing a mismatch that can only be solved by subsequent evolution or by modifying the current environment. Mismatches are an inevitable consequence of evolution in changing environments. They are especially relevant to human affairs, since modern human environments are so radically different from ancestral human environments. In addition, countless species are becoming mismatched to their environments thanks to anthropogenic environmental changes at a planetary scale. Waiting for subsequent genetic evolution to correct mismatches is not an option for problems requiring immediate solutions. This working group will develop a rigorous methodology for identifying evolutionary mismatches and finding the right environmental interventions, or “what to do about it,” in both humans and nonhuman species. The focus on mismatch emerged from the recent NESCent catalysis meeting titled “The Nature of Regulation: How Evolutionary Theory Can Inform the Regulation of Large-scale Human Social Interactions” which was organized in collaboration with the Evolution Institute. The working group will continue the collaboration, including a novel organizational structure that nests the working group within larger groups that provide both an informed audience and enables meaningful input from a distance.