An introduction to niche construction theory

Kevin Neville Laland, Blake Matthews, Marcus W. Feldman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

157 Citations (Scopus)


Niche construction refers to the modification of selective environments by organisms. Theoretical and empirical studies of niche construction are increasing in importance as foci in evolutionary ecology. This special edition presents theoretical and empirical research that illustrates the significance of niche construction to the field. Here we set the scene for the following papers by (1) discussing the history of niche construction research, (2) providing clear definitions that distinguish niche construction from related concepts such as ecosystem engineering and the extended phenotype, (3) providing a brief summary of the findings of niche construction research, (4) discussing the contribution of niche construction and ecological inheritance to (a) expanded notions of inheritance, and (b) the extended evolutionary synthesis, and (5) briefly touching on some of the issues that underlie the controversies over niche construction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-202
Number of pages12
JournalEvolutionary Ecology
Issue number2
Early online date3 Feb 2016
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2016


  • Niche construction
  • Niche construction theory
  • Ecological inheritance
  • Ecosystem engineering
  • Cultural niche construction


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