Developmental niche construction in dung beetles thumbnail

Developmental niche construction in dung beetles

by Daniel Schwab, Sofia Casasa & Armin Moczek


Understanding the extraordinary fit between organisms and their environments, or the nature of adaptation, is a long-standing focus of evolutionary biology. Traditionally, evolutionary biologists have focused on two routes to adaptation: organisms may adjust their phenotypes developmentally during their lifetimes through phenotypic plasticity, or across generations through evolved genetic changes in phenotype expression. A growing

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Research project 10: Host adaptation via change in its microbiome thumbnail

Research project 10: Host adaptation via change in its microbiome

by Marc W Feldman & Oren Kolodny


There has been growing awareness of the importance of studying the holobiome – the eukaryote organism with its microbiome – for the understanding of eukaryote evolution1-6. The holobiont complex is a system that flexibly self-assembles through reciprocal interactions between the organisms that participate in it, at multiple time scales6-8. To understand the evolutionary forces acting

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How do living beings fulfil the conditions for evolution by natural selection? thumbnail

How do living beings fulfil the conditions for evolution by natural selection?

by Tobias Uller & Heikki Helanterä


Have you ever wondered why there is such intense disagreement over the evolutionary significance of niche construction? If so, you may be helped by a recent paper in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. The paper shows how contention arises from alternative assumptions regarding the causal independence of the processes that generate variation,

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An unconventional place for unconventional science thumbnail

An unconventional place for unconventional science

by Wim Hordijk


Earlier this year, the inaugural workshop of the EES Project was held at the Konrad Lorenz Institute (KLI) in Austria. The KLI is a private and independent research institute with a focus on the development and evolution of biological and cultural complexity. Housed in a beautiful baroque building in the medieval town of Klosterneuburg, it offers a

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A new evolutionary cause, and some implications thumbnail

A new evolutionary cause, and some implications

by Arlin Stoltzfus


In a critique of various “misconceptions” about evolution, Lynch (2007) states that evo-devo and other fields have not introduced any new population-genetic principles, nor overturned existing ones. That sounds a bit unfair. Advocates of evo-devo typically don’t offer novel population-genetic causes (and if they did, wouldn’t Lynch simply claim them on behalf of population genetics?).

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Understanding the role of plasticity in evolution thumbnail

Understanding the role of plasticity in evolution

by Alfredo Rago


No modern-day biologist doubts that the development, physiology and behaviour of living beings are influenced by their environment. Plasticity is everywhere and, in many instances, it has clearly been shaped by natural selection. Plastic responses can be sophisticated strategies for survival and reproduction, but the same could be said for every adaptive feature of living

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Evolution Driven by Organismal Behavior thumbnail

Evolution Driven by Organismal Behavior

by Rui Diogo


In my latest book, Evolution Driven by Organismal Behavior, I present the theory of Organic Nonoptimal Constrained Evolution – or ONCE. It argues that evolution is mainly driven by the behavioral choices and persistence of organisms themselves, in a process in which Darwinian natural selection is a secondary – but still crucial – evolutionary player.

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Could <em>Planet of the Apes</em> actually happen? thumbnail

Could Planet of the Apes actually happen?

by Kevin N Laland


Following release of the blockbuster movie, biologist Kevin Laland asks ‘Why not?’   This week many of us will watch an army of retrovirus-modified apes wage brutal war against humanity. Unquestionably, chimpanzees on horseback, machine-gun-wielding gorillas and tutoring orangutans make spectacular theatre, but could it happen in reality? As people around the globe flock to

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Conditional gene expression, developmental plasticity, and the diversification of horned beetles thumbnail

Conditional gene expression, developmental plasticity, and the diversification of horned beetles

by Armin P Moczek


Developmental plasticity is the ability of an organism to adjust aspects of its phenotype in response to environmental conditions (both internal and external). Plasticity is a well-studied phenomenon, and a growing number of studies implicate developmental plasticity in facilitating and shaping adaptive evolution. We used three horned beetle species to learn more about possible relationships

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Epigenetic inheritance in evolution: an interview with Eva Jablonka thumbnail

Epigenetic inheritance in evolution: an interview with Eva Jablonka

by Eva Jablonka & Katrina J Falkenberg


Eva Jablonka is a professor at The Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University, Israel. With Marion Lamb, she has been the most prominent longstanding champion of the importance of epigenetic inheritance in evolution and has published many papers and books on the topic. Katrina Falkenberg is

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