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Niche construction

Niche construction is the process in which an organism alters its own (or other species') environment, often but not always in a manner that increases its chances of survival. Traditionally, niche construction has been viewed as simply being an aspect of the organism's phenotype, and not having any special role in evolution. However, recently several biologists have argued that niche construction is as important to evolution as natural selection; not only does the environment cause changes in species through selection, but species also cause changes in their environment through niche construction. The effect of niche construction may be especially pronounced in situations where the alterations persist for several generations, introducing ecological inheritance. Organisms inherit two legacies from their ancestors, genes and a modified environment.

Niche construction differs from the concept of The Extended Phenotype in that the process is not necessarily subject to a reproductive life-cycle bottleneck in the short term (as is the caddis larval case example). The Extended Phenotype cannot be considered a subset of Niche Construction.

The unified neutral theory of biodiversity asserts that niche construction may be neglected in population dynamics.


[edit] Organisms that exhibit niche construction

[edit] Cultural niche construction

Some scholars of evolution and human behavior argue that human's evolutionary success results precisely because of the ability to modify the environment in such a way as to optimize the human-environment adaptive relationship. These scholars refer to this as "cultural niche construction". [1]

[edit] References

  1. ^ LaLand, K.N. & Brown, G.R. (2006). Niche Construction, Human Behavior, and the Adaptive Lag Hypothesis. Evolutionary Anthropology, 15, 95-104.

[edit] External links

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