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Defining the Niche for Niche Construction: Evolutionary and Ecological Niches

Trappes, Rose (2021) Defining the Niche for Niche Construction: Evolutionary and Ecological Niches. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Niche construction theory (NCT) aims to transform and unite evolutionary biology and ecology. Much of the debate about NCT has focused on construction. Less attention has been accorded to the niche: what is it, exactly, that organisms are constructing? In this paper I compare and contrast the definition of the niche used in NCT with ecological niche definitions. NCT’s concept of the evolutionary niche is defined as the sum of selection pressures affecting a population. So defined, the evolutionary niche is narrower than the ecological niche. Moreover, when contrasted with a more restricted ecological niche concept, it has a slightly different extension. I point out three kinds of cases in which the evolutionary niche does not coincide with realized ecological niches: extreme habitat degradation, commensalism, and non-limiting or super-abundant resources. These conceptual differences affect the role of NCT in unifying ecology and evolutionary biology.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Trappes, Rose0000-0002-6398-5404
Additional Information: Forthcoming in Biology and Philosophy
Keywords: niche construction; ecological niche; evolutionary niche; habitat degradation; commensalism
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Depositing User: Rose Trappes
Date Deposited: 17 May 2021 14:05
Last Modified: 17 May 2021 14:05
Item ID: 19041
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology > Ecology/Conservation
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Date: May 2021
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/19041

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