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If human population growth is not controlled, natural areas must be sacrificed. An alternative is to create more habitat, terraforming Mars. However, this requires establishment of essential, ecosystem services on a planet currently unamenable to Terran species. Shorter term, assembling Terran-type ecosystems within contained environments is conceivable if mutually supportive species complements are determined. Accepting this, an assemblage of organisms that might form an early, forest environment is proposed, with rationale for its selection. A case is made for developing a contained facsimile, old growth forest on Mars, providing an oasis, proffering vital ecosystem functions (a forest bubble). It would serve as an extraterrestrial nature reserve (ETNR), psychological refuge and utilitarian botanic garden, supporting species of value to colonists for secondary metabolites (vitamins, flavours, perfumes, medicines, colours and mood enhancers). The design presented includes organisms that might tolerate local environmental variance and be assembled into a novel, bioregenerative forest ecosystem. This would differ from Earthly forests due to potential impact of local abiotic parameters on ecosystem functions, but it is argued that biotic support for space travel and colonization requires such developments. Consideration of the necessary species complement of an ETNR supports a view that it is not humanity alone that is reaching out to space, it is life, with all its diverse capabilities for colonization and establishment. Humans cannot, and will not, explore space alone because they did not evolve in isolation, being shaped over aeons by other species. Space will be travelled by a mutually supportive system of Terran organisms amongst which humans fit, exchanging metabolites and products of photosynthesis as they have always done.
This introductory chapter serves multiple purposes. Its primary aim is to introduce psychiatrists and other mental health professionals who are new to Darwinian thinking to some of the basic concepts and terminology of evolutionary science in order to ease their progress through the remaining chapters of this volume. Another aim is to provide a distillation and update of some significant theoretical and other developments in a variety of evolutionary disciplines relevant to psychiatry and psychology that would be of benefit to all readers, including existing evolutionists. Given the constraints of space, there will inevitably be significant omissions. We have elected to cover the basics of standard evolutionary theory, as well as some of the basic principles of evolutionary psychology and medicine. We also briefly survey some of the recent developments in the evolutionary literature on cultural evolution and related fields. We recognise that a balance needs to be struck between covering as wide an area as possible without the chapter becoming a glossary of terms. Readers unfamiliar with specialised evolutionary terms are advised to consult the glossary on the Evolutionary Psychiatry Special Interest Group at the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ website: www.epsig.org (click on ‘About us’ then ‘Resources’).
The currently dominant model of health and disease in psychiatry and medicine is Engel’s biopsychosocial (BPS) model, proposed in the 1970s to advance reductionistic biomedicine by integrating psychological and social factors. Although the BPS model represented progress, its scientific and philosophical foundations remain questionable and it cannot be considered complete or sufficient. In this chapter, we provide a historical and conceptual analysis of the BPS model before showing that the integration of evolutionary theory can provide a suitable next step from the BPS model, much as the BPS model was a step forward from the biomedical approach. Evolutionary theory justifies and enhances the BPS model’s recognition of multiple levels of causation and expands it by recognising both ultimate and proximate causation. It allows a clearer distinction of biological function from dysfunction and encourages a phylogenetic perspective on biology, which can guide research in new directions. In connecting the model of health with the most fundamental theory of biology, this approach provides the philosophical and scientific coherence that the BPS model sorely lacked.
An evolutionary perspective on drug use and addiction poses two primary questions that complement the proximate models of mainstream medicine. These are: why are humans motivated to repetitively seek out and consume non-nutritional substances, and why do plants (which are the sources of the majority of such chemicals) manufacture substances that can alter the functioning of the human nervous system? We propose that these questions can have a real bearing on our understanding of the phenomena of abuse and addiction that complements models of proximate causation. The evolutionary perspective recognises that addiction can only arise through the interaction of substances with evolutionarily ancient systems designed to promote the pursuit of rewards associated with increased fitness in the ancestral environment. Thus, neglecting the phylogenetic history and function of such systems necessarily results in an incomplete understanding of this phenomenon. Evolution can also help us to understand human uniqueness and especially the role of cumulative culture and gene–culture co-evolution in shaping the human body and mind. Hence, the evolutionary perspective enables a deeper understanding of the human vulnerability to substance abuse and addiction. The chapter concludes by considering the clinical and public policy implications of the evolutionary perspective presented.
Psychopharmacology is the scientific study of the effects of drugs on thoughts, emotions and behaviour as well as the therapeutic implications of their role in treating mental disorders. Psychopharmacology focuses on understanding relevant mental processes as the key to finding new medications and improving clinical outcomes in mental disorder. Interconnected with this, neuropsychopharmacology is the complementary discipline of the study of the basic neural mechanisms that drugs act upon to influence behaviour. Progress has been slow in recent decades with no major new classes of medication being added to the psychiatric formulary. We suggest that evolutionary thinking brings novel additional scientific perspectives to psychiatry and its basic sciences that highlight the evolutionary history of cell communication, neurotransmission and substances that can alter the brain in various ways. Evolutionary perspectives of function and phylogeny also provide a deeper understanding of how natural as well as artificial chemicals (i.e. psychotropic medications) utilise evolved neuronal pathways for their actions. Evolutionary theory can thereby help us to understand the psychological effects and side effects of psychotropic medications as well as assist in the discovery and testing of new drugs.
Evolutionary psychiatry attempts to explain and examine the development and prevalence of psychiatric disorders through the lens of evolutionary and adaptationist theories. In this edited volume, leading international evolutionary scholars present a variety of Darwinian perspectives that will encourage readers to consider 'why' as well as 'how' mental disorders arise. Using insights from comparative animal evolution, ethology, anthropology, culture, philosophy and other humanities, evolutionary thinking helps us to re-evaluate psychiatric epidemiology, genetics, biochemistry and psychology. It seeks explanations for persistent heritable traits shaped by selection and other evolutionary processes, and reviews traits and disorders using phylogenetic history and insights from the neurosciences as well as the effects of the modern environment. By bridging the gap between social and biological approaches to psychiatry, and encouraging bringing the evolutionary perspective into mainstream psychiatry, this book will help to inspire new avenues of research into the causation and treatment of mental disorders.
Unvaccinated people have a mortality rate from COVID-19 that is 32-fold that of fully vaccinated people. Yet, in the UK, more than 4% of adults have not accepted a vaccine to protect them against COVID-19 and at the time of writing only 73% of people were fully vaccinated. Psychological and societal factors underlying vaccine hesitation or refusal are complex. In this paper, we use evolutionary science to help explain how vaccine refusal can be the result of an historic adaptation to protect against the repetition of past trauma, including, for many, that of systemic racism and/or deprivation, and misguided attempt to preserve fertility. We discuss some resulting cognitive biases and conclude with recommendations for practice.
Using physiological markers to detect patients at risk of deterioration is common. Deaths at music festivals in Australia prompted scrutiny of tools to identify critically unwell patients for transport to hospital. This study evaluated initial physiological parameters to identify patients selected for transport to hospital from a music festival.
A retrospective audit of 2045 presentations at music festivals in Victoria, Australia, was performed. Presentation heart rate, systolic blood pressure, respiratory rate, oxygen saturation, temperature, and Glasgow Coma Scale were assessed using area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUROC) analysis, with a prespecified threshold of 0.7.
The only measured variable to exceed the prespecified cutpoint was initial systolic blood pressure, with an AUROC of 0.72 and optimal cutpoint of 122 mmHg. Using commonly accepted cutpoints for variables did not improve detection performance to acceptable levels, nor did using combination systems of cutpoints.
Initial physiological variables are poor predictors of the decision to transport to hospital from music festivals. Systolic blood pressure was significant, but only at a clinically insignificant value. Decisions on which patients to transport from an event site should incorporate more information than initial physiology. Senior clinicians should lead decision-making about hospital transport from music festivals.
Severe acute respiratory coronavirus virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmissions among healthcare workers and hospitalized patients are challenging to confirm. Investigation of infected persons often reveals multiple potential risk factors for viral acquisition. We combined exposure investigation with genomic analysis confirming 2 hospital-based clusters. Prolonged close contact with unmasked, unrecognized infectious, individuals was a common risk.
Predictive models of aboveground plant biomass derived from nondestructive measurements greatly assist in monitoring and surveying natural areas. Where invasive species are concerned, these models can provide insights to the impacts of invasions and efficacy of management strategies. Furthermore, tools that facilitate a rapid inventory allow for multiple assessments of impact over larger areas. Downy rose myrtle [Rhodomyrtus tomentosa (Aiton) Hassk.] is an invasive shrub in Florida and Hawaii that is native to southeastern Asia. Rhodomyrtus tomentosa was imported into Florida in the early 20th century through the ornamental plant trade and produces pink flowers and edible purple globe fruits. This woody shrub is particularly problematic in the understory of Florida’s mesic pine forests, where it forms dense, impenetrable thickets. To characterize the populations more accurately in Florida and build predictive equations for biomass that could be used to inform control methods, we established a network of sites from which we harvested individuals over 3 yr. Based on these measurements, we built a simple predictive equation for R. tomentosa dry biomass. Crown area strongly associates with biomass in a linear relationship (P < 0.001, R2 = 0.82). Fruit production is highly variable, but positively correlates to plant height in individuals that have reached reproductive size (plants below 1 m generally do not produce fruit), albeit weakly (P < 0.002, R2 = 0.27). We demonstrate here that two simple measurements—height and crown area—can accurately predict biomass and, to some degree, fruit production for R. tomentosa in Florida and may guide control methods by focusing on removing individuals larger than 1 m tall.
A subset of events within the UK Government Events Research Programme (ERP), developed to examine the risk of transmission of COVID-19 from attendance at events, was examined to explore the public health impact of holding mass sporting events. We used contact tracing data routinely collected through telephone interviews and online questionnaires, to describe the potential public health impact of the large sporting and cultural events on potential transmission and incidence of COVID-19. Data from the EURO 2020 matches hosted at Wembley identified very high numbers of individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 and were traced through NHS Test & Trace. This included both individuals who were potentially infectious (3036) and those who acquired their infection during the time of the Final (6376). This is in contrast with the All England Lawn Tennis Championships at Wimbledon, where there were similar number of spectators and venue capacity but there were lower total numbers of potentially infectious cases (299) and potentially acquired cases (582). While the infections associated with the EURO 2020 event may be attributed to a set of socio-cultural circumstances which are unlikely to be replicated for the forthcoming sporting season, other aspects may be important to consider including mitigations for spectators to consider such as face coverings when travelling to and from events, minimising crowding in poorly ventilated indoor spaces such as bars and pubs where people may congregate to watch events, and reducing the risk of aerosol exposure through requesting that individuals avoid shouting and chanting in large groups in enclosed spaces.
Experimental studies of the influence of fluid–structure interaction on cloud cavitation about a stiff stainless steel (SS) and a flexible composite (CF) hydrofoil have been presented in Parts I (Smith et al., J. Fluid Mech., vol. 896, 2020a, p. A1) and II (Smith et al., J. Fluid Mech., vol. 897, 2020b, p. A28). This work further analyses the data and complements the measurements with reduced-order model predictions to explain the complex response. A two degrees-of-freedom steady-state model is used to explain why the tip bending and twisting deformations are much higher for the CF hydrofoil, while the hydrodynamic load coefficients are very similar. A one degree-of-freedom dynamic model, which considers the spanwise bending deflection only, is used to capture the dynamic response of both hydrofoils. Peaks in the frequency response spectrum are observed at the re-entrant jet-driven and shock-wave-driven cavity shedding frequencies, system bending frequency and heterodyne frequencies caused by the mixing of the two cavity shedding frequencies. The predictions capture the increase of the mean system bending frequency and wider bandwidth of frequency modulation with decreasing cavitation number. The results show that, in general, the amplitude of the deformation fluctuation is higher, but the amplitude of the load fluctuation is lower for the CF hydrofoil compared with the SS hydrofoil. Significant dynamic load amplification is observed at subharmonic lock-in when the shock-wave-driven cavity shedding frequency matches with the nearest subharmonic of the system bending frequency of the CF hydrofoil. Both measurements and predictions show an absence of dynamic load amplification at primary lock-in because of the low intensity of cavity load fluctuations with high cavitation number.