Vallino, Joseph J.; Tsakalakis, Ioannis
We develop a trait-based model founded on the hypothesis that biological systems evolve and organize to maximize entropy production by dissipating chemical and electromagnetic free energy over longer time scales than abiotic processes by implementing temporal strategies. A marine food web consisting of phytoplankton, bacteria, and consumer functional groups is used to explore how temporal strategies, or the lack thereof, change entropy production in a shallow pond that receives a continuous flow of reduced organic carbon plus inorganic nitrogen and illumination from solar radiation with diel and seasonal dynamics. Results show that a temporal strategy that employs an explicit circadian clock produces more entropy than a passive strategy that uses internal carbon storage or a balanced growth strategy that requires phytoplankton to grow with fixed stoichiometry. When the community is forced to operate at high specific growth rates near 2 d−1, the optimization-guided model selects for phytoplankton ecotypes that exhibit complementary for winter versus summer environmental conditions to increase entropy production. We also present a new type of trait-based modeling where trait values are determined by maximizing entropy production rather than by random selection.