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the relationship between natural selection and niche construction

In Uncategorized on April 13, 2010 by wenwenfan

I am curious about the relationship between natural selection and niche construction. It seems truism, as Odling-Smee et al. propose, that they are both processes of evolution and that neither process is independent. If so, how do we characterize their relationship? It is not exactly the relationship between chicken and egg, for chicken and egg appear one after another rather than together. Nor is it exactly the relationship between an action and a reaction described in Newtonian physics, for action and reaction cancels each other out but natural selection and niche construction do not.

What do you think?

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2 Responses to “the relationship between natural selection and niche construction”

  1. I’d say that some phenomena are explained best by appealing to both natural selection and niche construction, but some other phenomena are best explained by appealing to just one. For example, the ecological changes that can be explained by niche construction cannot equally be explained by natural selection. It doesn’t make sense to talk about environmental states competing against each other nor does it make sense to say that they are selected. An example of a phenomena best explained by only natural selection, you merely need to look at any evolved trait of an organism that did not have a significant affect on how it manipulated its environment.

    To me, it seems that they are two forces both affecting evolution, but their intersection is not all we consider to be evolution. It’s a bit broader.

  2. I agree some phenomena may be best explained by one process rather than the other. But I think Lewontin and Odling-Smee don’t mean that the intersection of niche construction and natural selection are evolution. Rather, they mean that they are both part of evolution.

    Now I think the relationship between natural selection and niche construction is two processes that continually give feedbacks to each other. And in the process of giving feedbacks, the two processes change the appearances of both organism and environment.

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