EvoDevo And Niche Construction: Building Bridges

Document Type


Publication Date


Published In

Journal Of Experimental Zoology Part B: Molecular And Developmental Evolution


Evolutionary developmental biology and niche-construction theory have much in common, despite independent intellectual origins. Both place emphasis on the role of ontogenetic processes in evolution. The same historical events shaped them, and similar philosophical and sociological barriers hindered their respective advances. Both perspectives maintain that neo-Darwinism needs a theory of macroevolutionary variation and that such a theory can now be adduced from developmental biology. Some proponents of both EvoDevo and niche construction propose additional evolutionary mechanisms, and specify a key role for stable extra-genetic forms of inheritance. Similarly, proponents of each lay emphasis on "reciprocal causation" in the relationship between organism and environment. We illustrate here how EvoDevo and niche construction could gain "added value" from each other, and demonstrate how the niche-construction perspective potentially provides a useful conduit to integrate evolutionary and developmental biology. J. Exp. Zool. (Mol. Dev. Evol.) 310B:549-566, 2008. (C) 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.