Organism and Environment: Ecological Development, Niche Construction, and Adaptation

ISBN : 9780199587070

Sonia E. Sultan
240 ページ
195 x 253 mm

Over the past decade, advances in both molecular developmental biology and evolutionary ecology have made possible a new understanding of organisms as dynamic systems interacting with their environments. This innovative book synthesizes a wealth of recent research findings to examine how environments influence phenotypic expression in individual organisms (ecological development or 'eco-devo'), and how organisms in turn alter their environments (niche construction). A key argument explored throughout the book is that ecological interactions as well as natural selection are shaped by these dual organism-environment effects. This synthesis is particularly timely as biologists seek a unified contemporary framework in which to investigate the developmental outcomes, ecological success, and evolutionary prospects of organisms in rapidly changing environments. Organism and Environment is an advanced text suitable for graduate level students taking seminar courses in ecology, evolution, and developmental biology, as well as academics and researchers in these fields.


1. The Environmental Context of Development
2. The Organism-Environment Relationship: Ecological niches, adaptation, eco-devo and niche construction
3. Mechanisms of Plasticity: Eco-Devo pathways as environmental cue and response systems
4. Ecological Development as Niche Construction: How plasticity shapes the environment an organism experiences
5. Habitat Construction and Functional Feedbacks: How organisms modify their external conditions
6. Community-level Consequences of Habitat Construction and Eco-devo Responses
7. Natural Selection in the Light of the Organism-Environment Relationship
8. Epilogue: Research directions and real-world challenges


Sonia E. Sultan is Professor of Biology and Professor of Environmental Studies at Wesleyan University, where her research group studies plant ecological development. She has long been a major contributor to the empirical and conceptual literatures on individual plasticity and its relation to ecological breadth and adaptive evolution. Sultan studied History and Philosophy of Science at Princeton University, followed by graduate work in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University. She was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the University of California (Davis) Center for Population Biology, and a Fellow of the Berlin Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin).