Initially, I would like to give the answer of this question. Yes, can be. Indeed, there is a derived word for this approach, Biomimetics, copying the nature or benefit from natural opportunities while deriving solutions to the problems.
An instance in OR to previous statement is ‘Ant Colony Optimization’; which is one of the most popular studies, as obvious from its name. This is a metaheuristic found by Marco Dorigo in 1992 while studying for his PhD thesis. The inspiration of this method comes from ants’ behavior while they are searching for a path between their colony and the source of food.
I believe that all problems in the world can be solved by taking inspiration from nature. For instance, planes are developed by inspecting birds and similarly structure of submarines is derived from whales.
There are many sciences imitate the nature to find the solutions in their specific problems. For example, for the efficient design of the solar collector, MIT researchers are inspired by the structure of sunflower plant (the structure of small flowers in the sunflower lets the sunflower to turn 137 degree, which is stated as a golden angle and they used that structure) during their studies. For many examples about nature inspired technological improvements can be kept track at http://www.popsci.com/
At last, I have seen a video suggested by one of the commenters in the popsci.com to represent nature by numbers and geometry. I would like to also post this video here
By the way, this is my first post on this site and I am very excited while writing these sentences. I hope that OR-related websites, as this one, becomes more popular in future to spread the enthusiasm of Operations Research. I would glad to hear your comments about the topic. If you know any, feel free to share other imitations of the nature in OR studies.
Photo by Kevin Krejci