The "Altenberg Workshops in Theoretical Biology" address key questions of biological theories. Each workshop is organized by leading experts of a certain field who invite a group of international specialists to the KLI. The Altenberg Workshops aim to make conceptual progress and to generate initiatives of a distinctly interdisciplinary nature.
Evolutionary Developmental Biology (EDB) represents a new research agenda that unites evolutionary and developmental approaches to organismal form. In order to succeed, however, this resynthesis of development and evolution must include the environmental effects and physiological (endocrine / homeodynamic) processes that are part of organismal development. Ecology has been slow to embrace this new synthesis. Comparative physiology has been even slower, but there have been calls from funding agencies and leading researchers for an evolutionary comparative physiology. Similarly, with few exceptions, developmental biologists have been slow to embrace environmental and ecological-populational thinking in their approaches, either to development or to EDB. Very little attention has been given to physiological and metabolic processes that could mediate interactions between environ-ment, development, and evolution during ontogenetic and phylogenetic change. It is our contention that it may be environmental and physiological theories, emphasizing dynamic systems and equilibrium properties, that will contribute the next, significant chapter to formulating a true synthesis of evolution, indeed to completing the modern synthesis. The workshop intends to redress the omissions described above by bringing together a group of leading researchers from quite disparate fields of biology, and working on quite different systems, to examine the interface between environment, development, and evolution, in order to formulate what Scott Gilbert in a recent paper calls "eco-devo," but could be called "eco-evo-devo.” The workshop shall show the dynamic interaction between development and other physiological sciences, as well as how environmental signals are translated into change in biological systems. Because the topic requires a hierarchical integration of biological organization, the workshop includes approaches ranging from the molecular/genetic to the population level, and shows how embryonic development relates to life-history evolution, adapt-ation, and responses to environmental factors.