Optimization in Evolutionary Ecology

Optimization models treat natural selection as a process tending to produce maximal adaptedness to the environment, measured on some "criterion scale" defining the optimal phenotype. These models are descriptively adequate if they describe the outcomes of evolutionary processes. They are dynamically adequate if the variables which describe the outcomes also are responsible for those evolutionary outcomes. Optimality models can be descriptively adequate, but dynamically unrealistic. Relying on cases from evolutionary ecology, I provide reasons to question the dynamic adequacy of optimality models, and offer reasons for distinguishing, at least at a theoretical level, between satisficing and optimizing.
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