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Organism and EnvironmentEcological Development, Niche Construction, and Adaptation$
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Sonia E. Sultan

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199587070

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199587070.001.0001

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Natural selection in the light of the organism–environment relationship

Natural selection in the light of the organism–environment relationship

(p.141) Chapter 7 Natural selection in the light of the organism–environment relationship
Organism and Environment

Sonia E. Sultan

Oxford University Press

Selection arises from the encounter between phenotypes, which are environmentally influenced, and environments, which in turn are modified by the organisms themselves. This chapter examines selective evolution in the context of these reciprocal effects. First, new insights into phenotypic variation and heredity are summarized to expand a strictly allelic evolutionary model. A key point is that immediate as well as inherited environmental influences affect fitness variation and, consequently, play an evolutionary role. A section on the evolution of reaction norms explains environmentally contingent patterns of genetic variance (G × E interaction and cryptic variation) and argues that plasticity can buffer selective impact, facilitate evolutionary divergence, or both. The impact of heritable epigenetic factors on selective dynamics is then discussed. A section on selective feedbacks due to niche construction (eco-evolutionary feedbacks) provides case studies and reviews theoretical insights, including coevolutionary implications. A final section considers how reciprocal organism–environment effects can be integrated to inform studies of adaptation and selection.

Keywords:   natural selection, norms of reaction, genotype × environment interaction, cryptic genetic variation, plasticity, niche construction, eco-evolutionary feedbacks, epigenetics, fitness, diffuse coevolution

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