Journal of Genetics

, Volume 96, Issue 3, pp 505–508 | Cite as

Why Gupta et al.’s critique of niche construction theory is off target

  • Marcus W. Feldman
  • John Odling-Smee
  • Kevin N. Laland


Gupta et al., in their article in this issue (‘Niche construction in evolutionary theory: the construction of an academic niche?’. doi: 10.1007/s12041-017-0787-6), lament ‘serious problems with the way science is being done’ and suggest that ‘niche construction theory exemplifies this state of affairs.’ However, their aggressively confrontational but superficial critique of niche construction theory (NCT) only contributes to these problems by attacking claims that NCT does not make. This is unfortunate, as their poor scholarship has done a disservice to the evolutionary biology community through propagating misinformation. We correct Gupta et al.’s misunderstandings, stressing that NCT does not suggest that the fact that organisms engage in niche construction is neglected, nor does it make strong claims on the basis of its formal theory. Moreover, the treatment of niche construction as an evolutionary process has been highly productive, and is both theoretically and empirically well-validated. We end by reflecting on the potentially deleterious implications of their publication for evolutionary science.


niche construction evolutionary biology 


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Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcus W. Feldman
    • 1
  • John Odling-Smee
    • 2
  • Kevin N. Laland
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of BiologyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Mansfield CollegeUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.University of St Andrews School of BiologySt AndrewsScotland, UK

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