What do humpback whales returning to calve in the waters of Maui have to do with the ground state energy of a quantum system? Both exhibit a mathematical property called the "reduction phenomenon", which can be described very simply: mixing reduces growth, and differential growth selects for reduced mixing. The phenomenon underlies the Reduction Principle for the evolution of recombination, mutation, and dispersal rates, as well as recent results in reaction-diffusion models of dispersal. Animals returning to their birth places to give birth exemplify operation of the Reduction Principle through philopatry. In molecular genetics it is manifest as error-free DNA repair. In cultural evolution models it is manifest as traditionalism. Yet, departures from reduction are abundant, such as recombination and dispersal. How can sense be made of the complexity of outcomes? Two new papers describes mathematical results that extend the reduction phenomenon to infinite dimensional operators, and investigate departures from reduction which follow the "Principle of Partial Control". A new population statistic, the "fitness-abundance covariance", links ecological properties to the reduction phenomenon.