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

Marcus W. Feldman, John Odling-Smee, Kevin N. Laland*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-508
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Genetics
Volume96
Issue number3
Early online date20 Jul 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

Keywords

  • Evolutionary biology
  • Niche construction

Cite this