Nearly 100 years ago, Alfred Lotka published two short but insightful papers describing how ecosystems may organize. Principally, Lotka argued that ecosystems will grow in size and that their cycles will spin faster via predation and nutrient recycling so as to capture all available energy, and that evolution and natural selection are the mechanisms by which this occurs and progresses. Lotka's ideas have often been associated with the maximum power principle, but they are more consistent with recent developments in nonequilibrium thermodynamics, which assert that complex systems will organize toward maximum entropy production (MEP). In this review, we explore Lotka's hypothesis within the context of the MEP principle, as well as how this principle can be used to improve marine biogeochemistry models. We need to develop the equivalent of a climate model, as opposed to a weather model, to understand marine biogeochemistry on longer timescales, and adoption of the MEP principle can help create such models.


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