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Biological Theory

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 276–289 | Cite as

Niche Inheritance: A Possible Basis for Classifying Multiple Inheritance Systems in Evolution

  • John Odling-Smee
Article

Abstract

The theory of niche construction adds a second general inheritance system, ecological inheritance, to evolution (Odling-Smee et al. 2003). Ecological inheritance is the inheritance, via an external environment, of one or more natural selection pressures previously modified by niche-constructing organisms. This addition means descendant organisms inherit genes, and biotically transformed selection pressures in their environments, from their ancestors. The combined inheritance is called niche inheritance. Niche inheritance is used as a basis for classifying the multiple genetic and non-genetic, inheritance systems currently being proposed as possibly significant in evolution (e.g., Jablonka and Lamb 2005). Implications of niche inheritance for the relationship between evolution and development (EvoDevo) are discussed.

Keywords

cultural inheritance development evolution ecological inheritance epigenetic inheritance niche construction niche inheritance 

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Copyright information

© Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of AnthropologyUniversity of OxfordUK

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