2022-03-01 - 2022-08-28 | Research area: EvoDevo
The field of evolutionary biology is changing. New ideas are flooding into it from evolutionary developmental biology, epigenetics, ecology, genomics, and many other disciplines. According to leading evolutionary biologist, Stevan Arnold (2014) “to synthesize this information we need diverse perspectives, and bridges between them”. One such novel perspective is the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis, or EES (Pigluicci & Müller, 2010; Laland et al 2014, 2015; Müller, 2017). Central to this perspective is the idea that knowledge of how organisms develop, grow, and interact with their environments, helps researchers to account for both adaptation and the diversity of life.
While inspired by developments in evo devo, eco evo devo, paleontology, behavioural science and elsewhere, in recent years the EES has consolidated into a research program in its own right. New findings are emerging from it almost daily, on a diversity of topics ranging from epigenetic inheritance, cultural inheritance in animals, plasticity-led evolution, niche construction, and other evolutionary biases that result from developmental mechanisms. Some semblance of a community has been established, united under the umbrella of the EES, with the EES website (www.extendedevolutionarysynthesis.com) and associated social media (@EES_update) now acting as a hub. A major international conference entitled Evolution Evolving was held at Cambridge University April 1-4 2019, which showcased the excellent science emerging from this movement.
What is required now is an accessible book that pulls all of these novel findings together and makes a coherent case for conceptual change within evolutionary biology. This requires a detailed review of new findings, as well as explanations for how they fit together to construct a new way of thinking about evolution. The book must also address philosophical and historical issues, rebut counterarguments, and spell out practical implications. The primary goal of this fellowship will be to complete a book making the scientific case for an extended evolutionary synthesis.