Simon Levin

James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor in EEB; Director, Center for BioComplexity
Theoretical biology and evolution
Email Address:
Office Location: 
203 Eno Hall

Two conflicting tendencies can be seen throughout the biological world: individuality and collective behavior.  Natural selection operates on differences among individuals, rewarding those who perform better.  Nonetheless, even within this milieu, cooperation arises, and the repeated emergence of multicellularity is the most striking example.  The same tendencies are played out at higher levels, as individuals cooperate in groups, which compete with other such groups.  Most of our environmental and other challenges can be traced to such conflict, and to the unwillingness of individual agents to take account of the greater good.  We need to take multicellularity to yet a higher level, and find the collective Kokoro that is the only hope for the preservation of the planet.


Publications List: 

Chang, C.H. et al. (including S.A. Levin). 2017. The pleasure of pursuit: Recreational hunters in rural Southwest China exhibit low exit rates in response to declining catch. Ecology and Society 22 (1): 43. .pdf

Dixit, A. and S.A. Levin. 2017. Social creation of pro-social preferences for collective action. In The Theory of Externalities and Public Goods: A Memorial Volume Honoring Richard C. Cornes, ed. W. Buchholz and R. Rubbelke, 127-143. Springer. Available from Springer.

Hagstrom, G.I. and S.A. Levin. 2017. Marine ecosystems as complex adaptaive systems: Emergent patterns, critical transitions, and public goods. Ecosystems: DOI: 10.1007/s10021-017-0114-3. .pdf

Levin, S.A., 2017. Collective cooperation: From ecological communities to global governance and back. In Unsolved Problems in Ecology, ed. A. Dobson, D. Tilman, and R. Holt. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Forthcoming.


Administrative Assistant:  Sandi Milburn