Niche construction in evolutionary theory: the construction of an academic niche?
In recent years, fairly far-reaching claims have been repeatedly made about how niche construction, the modification by organisms of their environment, and that of other organisms, represents a vastly neglected phenomenon in ecological and evolutionary thought. The proponents of this view claim that the niche construction perspective greatly expands the scope of standard evolutionary theory and that niche construction deserves to be treated as a significant evolutionary process in its own right, almost at par with natural selection. Claims have also been advanced about how niche construction theory represents a substantial extension to, and re-orientation of, standard evolutionary theory, which is criticized as being narrowly gene-centric and ignoring the rich complexity and reciprocity of organism-environment interactions. We examine these claims in some detail and show that they do not stand up to scrutiny. We suggest that the manner in which niche construction theory is sought to be pushed in the literature is better viewed as an exercise in academic niche construction whereby, through incessant repetition of largely untenable claims, and the deployment of rhetorically appealing but logically dubious analogies, a receptive climate for a certain sub-discipline is sought to be manufactured within the scientific community. We see this as an unfortunate, but perhaps inevitable, nascent post-truth tendency within science.
- Downloaded 4,263 times
- Download rankings, all-time:
- Site-wide: 994 out of 89,387
- In evolutionary biology: 29 out of 5,462
- Year to date:
- Site-wide: 18,811 out of 89,387
- Since beginning of last month:
- Site-wide: 19,935 out of 89,387
Downloads over time
Distribution of downloads per paper, site-wide
- 18 Dec 2019: We're pleased to announce PanLingua, a new tool that enables you to search for machine-translated bioRxiv preprints using more than 100 different languages.
- 21 May 2019: PLOS Biology has published a community page about Rxivist.org and its design.
- 10 May 2019: The paper analyzing the Rxivist dataset has been published at eLife.
- 1 Mar 2019: We now have summary statistics about bioRxiv downloads and submissions.
- 8 Feb 2019: Data from Altmetric is now available on the Rxivist details page for every preprint. Look for the "donut" under the download metrics.
- 30 Jan 2019: preLights has featured the Rxivist preprint and written about our findings.
- 22 Jan 2019: Nature just published an article about Rxivist and our data.
- 13 Jan 2019: The Rxivist preprint is live!