Wagner Lab Research

University of Zurich

Institute of
Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies




Modern biology raises fundamental conceptual questions. One of them relates to the notion of causality, central to understanding the world around us. Do conventional notions of causality break down in the face of the extraordinary complexity of biological systems? Relatedly, what do we mean when we say that we can understand an organism (phenotype) by studying its DNA (genotype)? While questions like these have implications far beyond the sciences, other questions we ask are long-standing puzzles in evolutionary biology. How important is neutral change for evolutionary adaptation and innovation? And what is the role of randomness in Darwinian evolution? We aim to answer questions like these with approaches that range from experimental data analysis to mathematical modeling.

Selected Publications

Wagner, A. Causal drift, robust signaling, and complex disease. PLoS ONE 10(3), e0118413. [reprint request]

Wagner, A. (2012) The role of randomness in Darwinian evolution. Philosophy of Science 79, 95-119. [reprint request]

Wagner, A. (2008) Neutralism and selectionism: A network-based reconciliation. Nature Reviews Genetics 9, 965-974. [reprint request]

Wagner, A.  (1999) Causality in complex systems. Biology and Philosophy 14, 83-101 [reprint request]

Wagner, A. (1997) Models in the biological sciences. In: Dialektik 1997 (1) Falkenburg, B.; Hauser, S. (Eds.),  43-57. Felix Meiner, Hamburg. [reprint request]

Wagner, A. (1995) Reductionism in Evolutionary Biology: A Perceptional Artifact? in 1993 Lectures in Complex Systems, eds. D. Stein and L. Nadel, Santa Fe Institute Studies in the Sciences of Complexity, Lect. Vol. VI, Reading, MA:Addison-Wesley, 603-611.  [reprint request]