The landscape metaphor in development

  • Fusco G
  • Carrer R
  • Serrelli E
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"It seems that the landscape metaphor will continue to stay with us, at least for a while". We start defining a landscape as a function of multiple variables and show how this can be interpreted as a dynamical system. From the perspective of dynamical systems modelling, we move to analyze Waddington’s ‘epigenetic landscape’ and landscape representations in current developmental biology literature. Then we delve into the problem of models and metaphorical representations in science, which stands out as a crux for assessing the use of landscapes in development, and analyze the somehow parallel stories of Wright’s and Waddington’s landscapes. We conclude with some ideas on developmental landscapes in the context of visualization in science, with a focus on theoretical work in developmental biology.




Fusco, G., Carrer, R., & Serrelli, E. (2014). The landscape metaphor in development. In Towards a Theory of Development (pp. 114–128). Oxford University Press.

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