Daisyworld: A review

Andrew J. Wood, Graeme J. Ackland, James G. Dyke, Hywel T. P. Williams, Timothy M. Lenton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Citations (Scopus)


Daisyworld is a simple planetary model designed to show the long-term effects of coupling between life and its environment. Its original form was introduced by James Lovelock as a defense against criticism that his Gaia theory of the Earth as a self-regulating homeostatic system requires teleological control rather than being an emergent property. The central premise, that living organisms can have major effects on the climate system, is no longer controversial. The Daisyworld model has attracted considerable interest from the scientific community and has now established itself as a model independent of, but still related to, the Gaia theory. Used widely as both a teaching tool and as a basis for more complex studies of feedback systems, it has also become an important paradigm for the understanding of the role of biotic components when modeling the Earth system. This paper collects the accumulated knowledge from the study of Daisyworld and provides the reader with a concise account of its important properties. We emphasize the increasing amount of exact analytic work on Daisyworld and are able to bring together and summarize these results from different systems for the first time. We conclude by suggesting what a more general model of life-environment interaction should be based on.
Original languageEnglish
JournalReviews of Geophysics
Issue numberRG1001
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008

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