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In Entropy (Basel, Switzerland)

Here, we propose a computational approach to explore evolutionary fitness in complex biological systems based on empirical data using artificial neural networks. The essence of our approach is the following. We first introduce a ranking order of inherited elements (behavioral strategies or/and life history traits) in considered self-reproducing systems: we use available empirical information on selective advantages of such elements. Next, we introduce evolutionary fitness, which is formally described as a certain function reflecting the introduced ranking order. Then, we approximate fitness in the space of key parameters using a Taylor expansion. To estimate the coefficients in the Taylor expansion, we utilize artificial neural networks: we construct a surface to separate the domains of superior and interior ranking of pair inherited elements in the space of parameters. Finally, we use the obtained approximation of the fitness surface to find the evolutionarily stable (optimal) strategy which maximizes fitness. As an ecologically important study case, we apply our approach to explore the evolutionarily stable diel vertical migration of zooplankton in marine and freshwater ecosystems. Using machine learning we reconstruct the fitness function of herbivorous zooplankton from empirical data and predict the daily trajectory of a dominant species in the northeastern Black Sea.

Kuzenkov Oleg, Morozov Andrew, Kuzenkova Galina


diel vertical migration, evolutionarily stable strategy, evolutionary fitness, machine-learned ranking, pattern recognition, ranking order, zooplankton