The evolutionary consequences of niche construction: A theoretical investigation using two-locus theory

K. N. Laland*, F. J. Odling-Smee, M. W. Feldman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This paper addresses the joint evolution of environment-altering (niche constructing) traits, and traits whose fitness depends on alterable sources of natural selection in environments. We explore the evolutionary consequences of this niche construction using a two-locus population genetic model. The novel conclusions are that niche construction can (1) cause evolutionary inertia and momentum, (2) lead to the fixation of otherwise deleterious alleles, (3) support stable polymorphisms where none are expected, (4) eliminate what would otherwise be stable polymorphisms, and (5) influence disequilibrium. The results suggest that the changes that organ-isms bring about in their niche can themselves be an important source of natural selection pressures, and imply that evolution may proceed in cycles of selection and niche construction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-316
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume9
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1996

Keywords

  • Adaptation
  • Evolution
  • Frequency-dependent selection
  • Niche construction
  • Organism-environment coevolution
  • Two-locus theory

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