, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 215-237

Organic Selection: Proximate Environmental Effects on the Evolution of Morphology and Behaviour

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Abstract

Organic selection (the Baldwin Effect) by which an environmentally elicitedphenotypic adaptation comes under genotypic control following selectionwas proposed independently in 1896 by the psychologists James Baldwinand Conwy Lloyd Morgan and by the paleontologist Henry Fairfield Osborn.Modified forms of organic selection were proposed as autonomization bySchmalhausen in 1938, as genetic assimilation by Waddington in 1942, andas an explanation for evolution in changing environments or for speciationby Matsuda and West-Eberhard in the 1980s. Organic selection as amechanism mediating proximate environmental effects on the evolution ofmorphology and behaviour is the topic of this essay. Discussion includesthe context in which organic selection was proposed, Lamarckian or neo-Lamarckian implications of organic selection, Waddington’s experimentalstudies demonstrating the existence and efficacy of genetic assimilation,stabilizing selection and norms of reaction favoured by Schmalhausen, andMatsuda’s search for a mechanism of organic selection in endocrine changesand in heterochrony.