Ellen Clarke in interview with evolutionary biologist, Toby Kiers
Professor Kiers discusses her work on biological markets with Dr Clarke in an article for the European Philosophy of Science Association.
Toby Kiers is renowned for unearthing ancient biological markets that take place beneath forest floors, in which different trees and fungi barter for essential resources such as phosphorus and sugar.
In describing her main lines of research, she says:
My aim is to study the evolution of cooperation and punishment in nature, mostly between plants and microbes, but also between plants and animals, like ants. We are interested in why symbioses form, and what drives them to fall apart. I’m particularly interested in cheating in nature, and how organisms evolve strategies to benefit from being associated with cooperators, without cooperating themselves. Cheating is a driver of innovation, it is more common than people imagine.