Tag Archives: Environment

The Map of the Journey We’re On

The structure of the cosmos seems to clearly communicate that some local relationship economies bear fruit and some do not. In other words; we can count the seeds in an apple, but not the apples in a seed if it is cultivated properly. Of course there are many conditionals in that cultivation, but this is the general theme.

Cultivating opportunity depends on any number of contexts, but is rooted in recognizing and applying that which lends nourishment and protection to that which satisfies first basic needs, then nourishes some expanded potential, this latter aspect requires some abundance to service growth. This means actively cultivating the opportunity in the environment. (which happens to be one of our needs that satisfies us once it is met) Diminishing or destroying potential, or being exposed to antagonistic factors that are beyond our control can thwart or destroy that potential.

This need to cultivate motif sets the tone for the relational economy we must negotiate if we are to realize our full potential: Are we participating, or basking in an environment that nourishes and protects the cultivation of our fullest potential? If not, what, if anything, can we do about it? These are the questions we must ask to have any chance to realize our opportunity.

Some of us are infected with pathogenic structures, and or environments, either physical, mental or both, that prevent us from realizing our potential. Sometimes, even though we have the opportunity to bend our activities more directly toward growth, we are nonetheless inclined us to actively participate in activities that do not nourish and defend that fruitful relational engine that leads to our full potential. Self sabotage is common among us. It comes in many forms such as learned helplessness, or lacking the courage to sever parasitic and predatory relationships and forge new mutually beneficial ones that are more nourishing and protective of not only our potential, but that of the interdependent community that emerges from that fruitful relational soil.

To reorient a self defeated life we must recognize that engaging in parasitic or predatory activities such as developing or maintaining social relationships with persons who do not nourish and defend our potential, but feed on or stagnate it, or failing to cultivate the opportunities within our reach must be replaced. We must find and develop mutually beneficial relationships and activities to the degree we are able to cultivate them. That means we look for valuable things to bring to the table, and we also look to invest that contribution where it has an opportunity to return more value than it consumes. This is the recipe for a reality that is more inclined to work in our favor. Engaging in the pursuit of short term pleasures at the expense of long term satisfaction, or staying in social relationship climates that will never nourish our potential and the like is a recipe for a reality that is more likely to work against our favor.

There are any number of complex variables that can go into the barriers to potential, some of which are outside our local control, but the segment that is within our control is our only opportunity, and it is that climate which we must devote our abilities in order to cultivate our most satisfied potential. This is no different from any other organism, and it is one of the foundational statements made by way of how the cosmos is structured as far as I can tell.

I could be missing something(s)

Nature Echoes Nourish and Defend Behaviors on Many Scales

When our immune system sees a pathogen, something it perceives as harmful, it establishes ways to effectively neutralize or destroy that destructive agent. In doing this, it uses weapons (destructive agents), and vectors (vehicles) to carry the weapons it uses in defend to their appropriate location.

On a broader scale, this same defense of integrity through an “immune response strategy” may be what is going on at a larger scale in biological ecosystems. Since nature establishes defenses (things which destroy perceived pathogens) by establishing defensive weapons and looking for vectors to carry these destructive agents to their appropriate location in order to effect the “immune response”, why would we not expect to see this happening on different scales, from cell to body, to larger bodies of life?

The only difference in this relational dynamic that happens in a cell or single multicellular organisms that also may be happening in ecosystems may be the scale. This “immune response” may be also happening between larger bodies of life – bodies of life which transcend single organisms, and are constructed of networked metabolic structures that are stitched together through a vast array of species and subsystems within species – bodies of life that, although composed of many kinds of organisms, have a need to nourish itself, as well as protective skins and other defenses to protect itself, in addition to porous biological boundaries, the same way an individual cell or a larger organism does.

These larger bodies of life, which sometimes clash as a result of the existential debt nature demands for any coherent biological body – to nourish and protect itself, and to mount defenses against antagonists to that coherency. This may be the legend of the map that defines relationship landscape we see in biological ecosystems. It may also explain why, when there is less need for these defensive weapons to be carried to and fro to perceived pathogens in these larger bodies of life, that we also see these vectors less populated with these transgenic weapons, as we see in the case of mosquitoes in the rain forest, which tend to be less populated with the weapons of defense. Just a thought…

Disease-carrying mosquitoes rare in undisturbed tropical forests

From the article: “We found that fewer mosquito species known to carry disease-causing pathogens live in forested areas compared to disturbed ones… Mosquito species from altered forest sites are more likely to transmit disease than mosquitoes native to an area of mature tropical forest.”

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-08-disease-carrying-mosquitoes-rare-undisturbed-tropical.html

A Voice in the Choir of Life


The same way we have critical systems and organs in our individual biological membrane, we live in the context of a larger membrane, a larger body of life, which also has critical systems and organs. There are creatures, that if removed or diminished, can severely harm or destroy the body of life on which we depend. Large scale damage caused by relatively small changes in the body of life are called a trophic cascade.

For instance; the presence of wolves obviously changes the behavior of all the animals they prey on which affects all the biological organisms and environments they in turn interact with. If wolves are removed from system, the behaviors of the prey animals changes. Certain plants that were once off limits are now an option, others might now be ignored. The places they walk and how their reproductive drives impact the environment all begin to shift. This change in turn affects a number of other biological and physical systems. The prey animals might overpopulate. They might eradicate certain plant forms and under harvest their former food sources which can threaten or collapse their populations. The plants that depended on them to spread their seed may now be harmed. The point is, biology is an interconnected web, not a collection of isolated genetic islands.

Trophic cascades affect metabolic processes in a biological web, but they also impact social behaviors. If prey animals have less reason to be as cohesive as a herd and have less reason to run and stay fit this can change the way they relate to each other. This might impact their survivability through tough winters which depends on a certain type of sociality. They might get water from different sources changing their impact on the soil and river revetments. This can have an impact on plant life and fish etc. So extensive is the potential effect of a singular change in a biological ecosystem that it can alter the entire biological web all the way down to microorganisms. This type of collective effect in an ecosystem is called a top-down trophic cascade.

Bottom up cascades are also possible. When a primary producer in a food web is eliminated it has enormous ripples of impact up the chain. Removal of a predator, prey, or any creature from an ecosystem can cause a network of cascading consequences to the biological web. Not all of the effects are obvious. One reason these effects can be hard to detect is because many of the consequences are non linear. Some can be buried in a network of interconnections that appear as symptoms far removed from the cause. No matter the origin, this cascading impact on the balance of interdependencies present in biological systems is called a trophic cascade.

The interdependent properties of biological systems that are otherwise invisible are revealed once a trophic cascade lens is applied. If we only apply linear thought to the process of examining biological systems, we might think that whales eating fish diminishes fish stocks. We might also think that eliminating whales from the biological equation would increase fish stocks. This is not how biological systems work. The nature of the whole food web is such that what one creature produces as waste is what another needs as food. As mammals, we need oxygen to power our metabolism. Oxygen is a waste product of photosynthetic organisms. They need the carbon dioxide we produce. Together, we are part of the same body of life.

Trophic cascades are nothing new. Neither is one biological organism acting in such a way that their own survival is jeopardized. The Huronian glaciation was a world wide glaciation event lasting from 2400 million to 2100 million years ago. It was followed by, and probably caused by, the Great Oxygenation Event. This was when atmospheric oxygen began to rise dramatically due to photosynthetic cyanobacteria which appeared on earth about 200 million years prior. At the time there was no complementary life form to cycle the oxygen back into a usable form for the cyanobacteria. As a consequence they were drowning in their own waste. Once Earths oxygen sinks became saturated atmospheric oxygen increased and atmospheric methane decreased which caused a climate shift, triggering a world wide glaciation. Since free oxygen is toxic to obligate anaerobic organisms like cyanobacteria, the concentrations of oxygen are thought to have wiped out most of the Earth’s anaerobic inhabitants at the time.

This means cyanobacteria were responsible for one of the most, if not the most significant extinction events in Earth’s history, including many of them. It was not until aerobic organisms began to evolve which consume oxygen that the Earth began to recover and develop some kind of equilibrium.1 From a very wide lens, we are actually a complex form of dung beetle that consumes and repairs the oxygen by binding it with carbon for use as a metabolite for the very creatures that spawned us so long ago.

Interdependence is the principle of sustained structures in biological systems, and these chains of interdependency have developed complexity over the millennium. The Gaia hypothesis, also known as Gaia theory or Gaia principle, posits that organisms collectively interact with their inorganic surroundings on Earth to form a self-regulating system. Together the biological systems help maintain the metabolism of the planet, such that it supports sustained life on the planet. This speaks to the common role of every biologicla creature, and to what can happen if a particular species falls out of harmony with that role.

The same way our individual bodies have critical organs and critical relationships with other organisms that we depend on. Earth itself has a metabolism that we need to cultivate and tend to in order for us to continue. We are a voice in the choir of life. Any creature that falls out of harmony with serving a nourishing role in the body of life has faded from the biological landscape. Sometimes this exit is dramatic and sometimes a lot of splash damage is caused by the chaos of the exit.

Recognizing that not only we, but the other creatures we share this Earth with are part of our collective body of life is part of the cultural paradigm shift that must take place in order for us to sustainably move forward into the future. If we recognize the value of nourishing each other, and the body of life, we also maximize our chances for a fulfilling future. We know that desert environments are full of spines and reflect the harsh realities of their environment. The same way we know the lush fruits of the tropics provide plentiful nourishment sources. The difference is the environment and we have the capacity to cultivate the environment. The real question is will we squander or leverage this capacity to serve the body of life, and by extension ourselves?

Further reading:




1Prokaryotes such as cyanobacteria which are thought to have produced atmospheric oxygen.

The Map To The Future is through Community


It’s been said people reflect the environment they’re exposed to. This is particularly true at times when we are more emotionally excited. We remember trauma more so than the much more abundant time periods of the mundane. As children we’re in a perpetual state of excitation and wonder. As children, while we don’t have the wherewithal to absorb and retain the shaping events in the context of words, these events are nonetheless a powerful influence on the way we think and act later on.

We have a tendency to drape the cultural values and experiences we’re baptized in as a veil over our eyes and then use that veil as the filter through which we see each other and the world. A well traveled or deliberate individual might occasionally breach the veil and cross the cultural divide, at least intellectually, to see a bit of the common threads that weave together humanity. This is one such attempt, to understand the current state of our global culture and perhaps glimpse at some of the unrealized opportunity we may have at our disposal. With that understanding , perhaps we might dare to dabble our collective oar in the currents in which we ride to steer toward a more fulfilled state of being.


A coral community with a concentration of Madracis decactis on top of one of the pinnacles at Stetson Bank.

It is not beyond the pale to recognize that mankind has historically had to both literally and figuratively fight against nature in order to survive at times. In desperate times, this spawned the need to commit the most profane acts of cruelty and dehumanizing degradation, and over time this temporary necessity became inseparably intertwined with our collective cultural identity. Disease, predators, natural disasters and climate catastrophes came to be seen in some circles as things needed to be dominated in order to survive. This fight against nature was particularly pronounced in cultures that had to navigate harsher climates, endure famines and the like.

The same way an individual reflects the expressions of their local environment, cultures tend to reflect the environment they exist in and have been exposed to over time. The harsher climates some of us endured, spawned cultural reflections of themselves in the form of parasitic and predatory values that affected in the way we saw the world and each other. It shaped our myths, our cultural values and the relationship dynamic by which we pulsed – and these cultures that were refined in the fires of adversity became the warrior class of mankind. Although it has morphed into something far afield of its original appearance on the human cultural scene, war may have been spawned as a survival mechanism during desperate times. When we perceive our survival as being under threat, we opt to fight or take flight as a reaction. These fight and flight behaviors are an apt description of much of our history. Not everyone, everywhere, but as a trend, those with the capacity to dominate came to associate dominating nature, and each other, with “natural right” and “progress” – as the means of making a living on a cultural level.

The dominators came to dominate even those that didn’t have any need nor desire to live as expressions of fear – those that apply maximum pressure to nature’s bounty – that use exploitation on the altar of dehumanization to vacuum value toward the few at the expense of the many – those that sacrifice the future for the sake of the now and scorch the very earth that feeds them were born in these fires of adversity or carried on the cultural currents of those that spread these dominating values. The people who lived more in harmony with the body of life were eventually swallowed by those of us that developed concepts like property, debt, government, society, and duty as the means of establishing the false comfort of ownership and the false safety of the upper echelons of hierarchical safety. Expending societal skin to pleasure themselves…

life-sustaining river contaminated

Zayandeh-rood, a critical and life-sustaining river contaminated by oil, industrial wastes and chemicals illegally dumped in it

All of this dominance has not come without a cost. In beating back nature to continue existing, and then holding on to that fierce ritual of domination as a means of existing, we have sacrificed a portion of the spirit of life for the sake of the ritual of existence. We have deadened the opportunity of authentic relationship by staying prepared for the disaster we fear lurks in the shadows – that disaster we have come to expect and that we have also come to cultivate on our social landscape – and in so doing we have robbed ourselves of our own nature. Every organ in our body must willingly contribute something of nourishing value in the context of the community it exists in order for the body to maintain its integrity. Biology, at its core, is a gift economy, not a parasitic and predatory one. Each cell and organ in a body of any size lives in and depends on the rest of the community to share value for the sake of the collective being it depends on for life. In the long run it is a community principle that sustains us, not a dominance one. When the entire community operates on an economy based on sharing nourishing values with each other, we experience the comfort of community as well as the exhilaration of being able to navigate at our peak. Parasitic and predatory behaviors may be necessary to negotiate acute and terrible circumstances, but as a way of life, they become self destructive.

We now live in the echoes of a cultural tragedy of the commons – in the midst of treacherous waters where the social currency is aligned more with the notion that “If I do not participate in the harsh and dehumanizing coin of the realm, then I will be swallowed. I must exploit, I must dominate, I must compete, or I will be dominated.” In so acquiescing to the banality of evil stitched into the fabric of our cultural memory we have lost touch with the fact that cultivating the fullness of life requires we have a community and not a culture of exploitation – a community where we cultivate each others values instead of attempt to cease, dominate, and consume them. Although desperate times call for desperate measures, it is also true that we must gravitate back to our true nature lest we become the cause of the very thing we rail against. The dominator can become a victim of its own success – dominated by domination like a snake that eats its own tail. We must recognize that our tribe is earth, and our people are us – all of us – we must recognize that our body is the whole body of life – and that body is the Earth itself – it is not this local eddy of relationships we call our individual body. Our strength and our life depends on our capacity to express the community principle. The fullness any one of us can attain is contingent on what we collectively express in terms of community values. Every “I am” is because “we are”.

We need a world that recognizes the opportunity expressed through nature. We need a world that sees wealth as a function of giving to each other and cultivating nourishing relationships throughout the environment that lead to more life giving nourishment – and not from the seizure and demand from each other and the stripping of the environment. We need to use our individual voice in this choir – to sing that tune. To live in the context of a community that cultivates the fullness of life through sharing our best with each other. As a reward for this expression, we get to live in a world that cultivates our fullest experience of life and not one that keeps us beneath the threshold of our full potential. It is a self interested act to live by the community principle – to cultivate community. Our biological economy speaks to the validity of our own need to cultivate community through its structure. We need to contribute to the larger body of life in which we live and on which we depend in order for us to exist at all. Together we are one body of life. Divided we cultivate our own poverty.

If we were to do a sincere autopsy on the cause of our current predicament, we would not be able to trace blame to those that currently acquiesce to the “system” as it stands. Those of us that dominate are a cultural echo of fear, or a direct unwitting victim that cultivates an experience of life beneath the threshold of its full potential. We can become vectors of poverty, but not the cause. We would have to trace blame largely to a mindless conspiracy of environmental circumstances, accumulated over the years, which we now subliminally reflect and onto which we overlay our linguistic abstractions. As a global culture we reflect the full tapestry of our environmental experiences and perpetuate these on our social landscape as blindly as the dung beetle rolls it ball of waste across the dirt – we are a cultural expression of our phyletic memory – our cultural genetics were forged in the primordial soup of environmental circumstance.

Photo Credit, TheDailyMail.com

We are social creatures by nature. We hunger for intimate nourishing community. It is our nature, it is the principle on which we sustain ourselves. Our need for intimacy with air, nourishing food and water sources, and the need to process and eliminate those entities in ways that benefit other life forms speaks to the interdependent community of life in which we live, and on which we depend for life. Our very structure is an expression of our nature. Should we choose to see it as the guide by which we might live, and through which we can thrive, we will act in service of our own best interest. To serve the community is to serve ourselves. We have yet to fully realize that our local community is Earth, and that we need to have a vested interest in each others success and well being to realize the full flower of that opportunity that exists in the context of the real government under which we all live – the laws of nature. To violate these laws, or to do anything less is to become the author of our own poverty and perhaps our own extinction. What has led to where we are will not take us forward. Like any womb, the thing that nourishes us to a certain point will strangle us if we do not emerge into the next paradigm of existence.

Each of us that understands the community principle as the way to nourish our future must do what we can to cultivate a wider expressions of this. Those of us on the cusp of this new paradigm of awareness must cultivate more tangible expressions. To move forward, we must integrate the community principle into our personal, community, business, governmental and environmental values. We can become authors of our collective wealth if, and only if, we recognize our individual potential depends on how much we collectively nourish the community of life in which we live, and on which we depend for life.

Be well.

Biology is The Song The Cosmos Sings

0060-CosmicSongThe behavioral characteristics of biological structures rhyme. From the relatively simple single celled organism, to the entire biosphere there is an echo of form and function on widening scales. Behavioral characteristics at one level in the structure ebb and flow in a wave pattern at other levels.

Each cell inside our body has a skin in the form of a semi porous selective membrane. The membrane is geared to sense, communicate and negotiate relationships with the internal and external environment. These relationships are aligned under such purposes as sensing and responding to the environment, communicating with neighboring cells, letting in nutrients, expelling waste and defending against pathogens that might disrupt the function of the cellular system. The larger organs in our body have these same principles of form and function embedded in them. The external parts of our body including everything from skin, eyes, ears, anus, hands follow the same principles of form and function expressed at the cellular and organ level. The structural ideas reflected at the core are echoed in a rhyming pattern throughout our biological system. We are, in effect, a song written in the fabric of space-time and matter-energy.

If we widen the lens, this same rhyming aspect of form and function echoes outward beyond a single organism. A species develops a skin. Human communication itself is largely based on abstract membranes we call words that form the effect of a skin around a concept. Tribalism is the description of a cultural body that is also an ideological, ritualistic and sometimes geographic or resource driven skin. Expansionism and assimilation is the same principle as eating and digesting external resources. Religion, government, business, and professions as well as academic disciplines also develop this same skin like attribute within their structure.

Of course skin is just one of the many form and function aspects of a biological system that are echoed on many scales. The point here is not to outline all of them, but to describe the rhyming process itself and use it as a platform to gain some insight into ourselves. If we turn our eye toward understanding our nature with any degree of accuracy we must concede that we are far more a reflection – an echo – of the form and function of nature. The more we understand the depths of that communication made to and through the cosmos, the more able we are to navigate with intention through the waters she defines.

Ectosymbiotic Theory

This article is intended mostly primarily for people with an evolution, biology or otherwise similar background. It is a proposed tool to understand the relationships that define coherent systems in general, but more specifically biology, with a little more clarity. It looks at biological life through a relational lens, rather than one based on genetics or membranes such as skin (in the traditional sense) and so on. The intention is to lay the foundation to be better prepared to make good choices about how to cultivate fruitful biological relationships in intentional directions. It is not a light read. Feedback is both welcomed and sought after; how to articulate the idea better, where to take it so it can be of most value, or identify the reasons it should be trashed as bunk, altered, etc. Although I tried somewhat to make it understandable to people familiar basic biology, to those who dive in and get caught in the quagmire of a  partially formed idea that is not articulated as well as it could be, I apologize in advance.


We are not alone. Without the plants, animals and chemicals like H2O and O2 we could not survive. Many of the microbes that live in and on us are also essential to the coherent system of relationships that establishes and maintains our biological integrity. Without these relationships we would disintegrate. The same way our organs deliver nourishing value to each other, communicating through their semi porous membranes in a community fashion, we live in the context of a greater body of life – a vast web of relationships that collectively establish and defend their mutual integrity and continuation over time. This greater field of relationships, bound together by the mutualistic dependency they share for continuing existence in the context of a sometimes antagonistic environment is what is being proposed here as ectosymbiotic theory.

Ectosymbiosis establishes the boundaries of an organism by relationship and not by such things as a cell membrane, skin, the capacity to interbreed, or shared DNA. To understand this concept we can start with the fact that many of the organelles (tiny organs) inside eukaryotic cells (the kind we’re made of) were once separate prokaryotic creatures (with a single membrane) that came together to work as a single unit. This coming together of separate life forms as one inside a single membrane is called endosymbiosis. We humans are multicellular eukaryotic organisms. The same community of relationships that make up our cells is echoed in the way our organs relate to each other. The theory proposed here, ectosymbiosis,  suggests that organisms are also built on the same principle of community, working together as a single body even though they are separated by DNA, membranes and the like. The key binder is a mutual role in each other’s survival.

Ectosymbiotic organisms are defined here as any coherent collection of structures that as operate as an interdependent dynamic body of relationships with self-sustaining properties, that have relational systems that can perceive and respond to the environment, that can differentiate between relationships that contribute to or destroy the cooperative integrity it depends on, that actively acts to defend against antagonists while cultivating the relationships that contribute to the strength of the entire system and sustaining the collective community, that can extract, transform and use various forms of energy from the environment toward this collective end, that have the capacity for dynamic self-replication and self-assembly as part of the drive for self sustenance and to saturate the environment to is maximal point to carry the collective relationship field, that does this through a collection of functional structures with separate individual capacities, but collectively aligned on a unified purpose growing to the maximal carrying capacity of the environment while simultaneously sustaining the integrity of the system, that seeks out, establishes and integrates new relationships that contribute to these ends and does so with some apparent measure of awareness.

If we use this ectosymbiotic lens to look at the various biological relationship fields we see peppered throughout the Earth, we can see at the foundation the photosynthetic and chemosynthetic organisms, (autotrophs and chemoautotrophs) which organize and channel energy from the raw materials of the cosmos and translate these using an energy source from inorganic to organic. These organisms, in effect, translate raw cosmos to biology. Further into the collective field of relationships we see heterotrophic organisms that live off the nutritional “milk” supplied by the auto and chemoautotrophic organisms. We can trace the entire biological web to this basic relational dynamic beginning with the cosmos, crossing the biological divide with autotrophs, and culminating in heterotrophs. Biological integrity from an ectosymbiotic perspective is not based on one organism’s relationship with another, but on the value of the relationship field that is threaded through multiple organisms, that operate as a whole to dynamically establish and maintain the entire system from the non biological environment. This means parts and pieces of the systems of one organism can be part of much larger ectosymbiotic body.

In biological terms ectosymbiotic organisms are dominated by mutualistic and commensal relationship dynamics that are both necessary and sufficient to nourish and perpetuate the ectosymbiotic organism. In contrast to the typical method of biological cartography where organisms are defined along genetic or as contained within a singular membrane such as a skin, ectosymbiotic organisms are defined by the collection of functions that mutually serve the entire community and are a necessary element of that body of relationships to nourish and sustain the collective body over time.[1] In biological cartography terms, with ectosymbiosis as the axiom to establish geographic boundaries of an organism we would group all the relationship systems like biosynthesis, metabolic pathways, as well as carbon oxygen and nitrogen fixing as part of the same ectosymbiotic organism without respect to geno-specific lines or those between organic and inorganic.[2] An ectosymbiotic membrane may encompass only a subset of the relationship functions in a specific species and the rest of the functions associated with that same species might be part of a completely different ectosymbiotic organism. It can also mean that a species or set of functional outcomes in one location is part of an ectosymbiotic organism where in another location it is not. Another way to look at ectosymbiosis is to identify the essential biodiversity to the point where it functions as a singular self sustaining body.

The following chart categorizes the relationships present in biological systems by their effect within the system and assigns a number based on whether the relationship produces strength or weakness in the overall integrity of the system. This model is designed to serve as a crude lens to better understand the general workings of biological systems, not as a precise metric to understand systemic thresholds of integrity and the like. These systemic effects are meant as a means to characterize the nature of relationships within systems such as mechanical and biology:


The positive and negative values associated with each effect in the chart are intended as a method to give an approximate measure the relative strength of a system. The idea being if the relationship dynamics within the system and the environment were plotted based on the type of relationships and the context of a system and its environment it would demonstrate strengths and weaknesses. The primary purpose of this matrix is serve as a lens through which systems can be assessed from a macro perspective. The weakness of this crude type of lens is that would not identify micro vulnerabilities that could exist that might be exploited using relatively minor negativistic effects at a specific critical points in the system.

The same way microscopic lenses inherently reveal micro scale structures while obscuring macro scale ones, and telescopic lenses do the opposite, this abstract relational lens is meant as a telescopic view of systems. The value would be attained by measuring the strength of the ectosymbiotic organism in the context of the other relational factors, including other ectosymbiotic organisms in relationship with each other.

Ectosymbiotic organisms include all relationships necessary to sustain a body of life, whether organic or not, therefore an ectosymbiotic body is not bounded by genetic lines, but is instead defined by functional lines. The outside membrane of an ectosymbiotic organism can be drawn where antagonistic, amensalistic and competitive relationship dynamics that threaten the function of the internal workings exist.[3] Any relational element, no matter whether organic, inorganic, energetic, spatial, temporal or otherwise that does not strengthen the relational field of an ectosymbiotic organism body is considered “other”. Any neutral relationships in contact with the ectosymbiotic organism either internally or externally are just that; neutral.

What is the value of categorizing relationships through an ectosymbiotic lens?

Here are a couple key elements that would be made visible using an ectosymbiotic lens: The same way understanding the physics of erosion led to contour farming and subsequently no till farming in agriculture, we would be better positioned to understand and cultivate strength in biological relational systems that provide strength to the nourishing foundations on which we both stand and depend. We would be better positioned to understand how tampering with segments in the chain can have a cascade effect on the entire system as well as what that cascade effect might be. This could lead to better planning and execution of strategies that cultivate growth. It would help differentiate what is a “botanical weed”[4] in the context of a given ectosymbiotic system vs. what is perhaps an unpleasant but necessary element in the ectosymbiotic body.

We would be able to identify the global properties that emerge at different layers of organization; i.e. cell, organ, body and ecosystem and understand the value of cultivating mutually beneficial relationships as the key to strengthening the overall integrity of the body of life. Traditionally ecosystems have been defined by what is there, not by what would happen if the ecosystem was specifically cultivated as part of the same interconnected system.

Predictions if the hypothetical model is true:

We would expect to see the same differentiated morphological profiles in ectosymbiotic body that we see in other biological entities with differing germ layer profiles. This means we would expect to see some ectosymbiotic bodies would be monoblastic in nature like sponges,[5] diploblastic in nature like jellyfish and triploblastic morphologies such as we see in placental mammals. Extremophiles would probably fit in the monoblastic ectosymbiotic profile because of their autotrophic nature at the edge of the biological membrane. We would see some forms of radial symmetry with a differentiated top to bottom in diploblastic ectosymbiotic organism groupings as well as top down differentiations. We would also expect to see bilateral symmetry, differentiated front to back and top and bottom in triploblastic ectosymbiotic organisms.[6]

Within the triploblastic ectosymbiotic organism we would expect to see the same systems we see in a singular speciated organism of a triploblastic morphology. This would include the following:

  • A nervous system – Enables communication to send, receive, and process nerve and sensory impulses.
    • This would include a central nervous system as in a brain and spinal cord
    • a peripheral nervous system that branches off of the brain and spinal cord model carrying signals to the muscle and gland portions of the ectosymbiotic organism
    • an autonomic nervous system to controls involuntary actions such as heartbeat and digestion, regulation of certain systems.
  • A circulatory system enabling systemic transport and deploy nutrition, and certain elements that need system wide transport such as immune components through structures that mimic the arteries, veins, and capillaries.
  • A respiratory system that brings breath into the system and releases waste back out. (There may be multiple systems)
  • A lymphatic system that filters out disease-causing organisms and helps to drain waste in and around tissues and plays a role in defense against infectious intruders.
  • An endocrine system producing hormones histamines and other chemical communicators to control or influence various body functions such as metabolism, growth, and reproduction.
  • A urinary system that enables the processing and excretion of waste fluids as well as a role in regulating the flow of hydration.
  • A muscular system that enables movement as a function of activities and adaptation including involuntary such as would control the stomach and intestine cardiac etc. and voluntary which could carry out acts of volition.
  • A digestive system to break down food and obtain energy. This would include any necessary non-organic as well as organic sources in the ectosymbiotic body.
  • An integumentary system or a membrane to protect the rest of the body from various kinds of damage, define the boundary of the body and to play roles in regulating internal systems, aid the immune system elimination of waste, play a role in regulating homeostasis etc.
  • An Immune system – The immune system protects against infection and disease.
  • A skeletal or support system to aid in internal and or external support such tubules, skeleton, exoskeleton or shell.

Since commensal and mutualistic symbiotic relationships are the synaptic connections in an ectosymbiotic body, we would expect pathogenic attacks on an ectosymbiotic body to be responded to by specific species or groups of species within that body that play the immune defense system roles. The idea being we would look for same types of relational dynamics we see in organs and systems in our bodies to be mirrored in an ectosymbiotic relational body. The same way organelles are part of cells, cells are part of organs and organs are part of a body, we would expect to see a species as an organ or tissue in an ectosymbiotic body performing a specific task in the context of a community.

The immune defense system in an ectosymbiotic organism might take the form of specific bacteria attacking a pathogenic organism that destructively feeds on its relational web, or perhaps the immune response would be carried out by developing a destructive mechanism such as a strand of viral RNA capsid and organelle mechanisms to work in concert to attack the offending pathogenic host as we see in the case of HIV. The idea being one ectosymbiotic body is immunologically responding to disrupt the commensal and mutualistic symbiotic relationships that characterize the attacking ectosymbiotic organism’s attempts at homeostasis. This might take the form of destroying a critical primary producer in the ectosymbiotic matrix, or a key element in the bio-relational chain that attempts to disrupt the dependencies on nourishing flows within the ectosymbiotic body of the pathogenic vector. The fact that humans destroy the host of certain bacteria that live in avian esophageal tracts may in fact be the reason we get the flu. A bacterium that has an ectosymbiotic relationship may be producing a viral strand of RNA as a defense mechanism of its ectosymbiotic body. Plants and bacteria may adapt methodologies from their normal biochemical behaviors such as transformation, transduction and bacterial conjugation as vectors for functions like breathing, vision and so on.

Organ elements such as vision and brain functions within an ectosymbiotic organism would not necessarily be apparent if we are too parochial in our view of organs and tissues. Conventional understanding of organs must be viewed through a relationship lens and not a morphological one in order for the organ and tissue functions of an ectosymbiotic organism to appear. Vision and cognitive functions might involve one species within the ectosymbiotic organism reading the histamine profile of another organism within its body as a signal that necessitates an adaptive or homeostatic behavioral expression. In essence this is the method for stimulus response mechanisms within the ectosymbiotic organism as well as cognition. We would expect to see a hierarchy of concentric awareness the same as we do in triploblastic organisms. In other words; the same way our body functions as an organ or a cell we would expect to see this concentric representation on the ectosymbiotic organism level.

We must not limit ourselves to expecting nonporous membranes in ectosymbiotic organisms. There would be a biodiversity of ectosymbiotic organisms the same as we see it on a species level.

Since this is a relational lens and not a genetic one, we would not necessarily want to limit our lens to genetic similarity either. Male and female splitting would be an expression of ectosymbiotic nature within a species. Differentiated tasks aligned around a singular purpose is the relational axiom. The male female aspect of many organisms is just such an expression. We would be able to trace male female aspect this back to the split that happened after autotrophic organisms almost drown in their own feces (O2) that forged that first ectosymbiotic split in the form of heterotrophs. This ectosymbiotic organism lens could further clarify everything from evolution to current bio-relational dynamics.

A Venn diagram model might be best to visualize these morphological connections in ectosymbiotic bodies. Were an ectosymbiotic organism or web to be drawn out it would look like a rhizomatic Venn diagram – a network of intertwined symbiotic relationships. It may also be that a singular self-correcting ectosymbiotic body exists and parasitic and predatory mechanisms within it are methodologies for self-correction.

Should the ectosymbiotic organism hypothesis prove true its usefulness would become apparent in terms of tracing the vectors of pathology between organisms to manipulate, leverage and or cut off vector pathways – the same way antiseptics or probiotics can cut off vector pathways or facilitate health of certain pathogens in human relational environments.

Hint: We might see primary producer organisms as part of the lung digestive function in ectosymbiotic organisms. A profound possibility might be that discover there is a fully functioning cognitive creature or creatures woven into the body of life that we have been missing because our focus is on reductive abstractions instead of a system biased rhizomatic lens. The same way we see a much more revealing image of the cosmos using radio telescopes and the like, using an ectosymbiotic organism lens may help us see our own nature with more depth and understanding.

[1] It should be noted that “nourish” is used here in the sense of developing to saturate an environment to the fullest extent and “sustain” is used in a broad sense to include behaviors such as renewal in the form of reproduction when this is a necessary means of sustaining the system.

[2] One example of this would be how lightning and atmospheric nitrogen participate in nitrogen fixing which is necessary for plant metabolism.

[3] This is not to imply that ectosymbiotic bodies do not have to deal with negative relational aspects, just that these negative relationship aspects are not part of the ectosymbiotic body. (There may be necessary exceptions to this)

[4] A botanical weed is defined here as any life form seated in the context of an ectosymbiotic body that exhibits antagonistic, amensalistic or competitive relational dynamic.

[5] porifera

[6] It would not be unusual to see these same characteristic groupings mirrored in social bodies, linguistics, behavior profiles, thinking capacities, personality profiles etc. For instance a person exposed to extreme stresses might have a monoblastic personality profile, unable to connect with mutual beneficial lines across a pluralistic social landscape.