Journal article

The Role of Pleiotropy in the Evolutionary Maintenance of Positive Niche Construction

Rebecca H Chisholm, Brian D Connelly, Benjamin Kerr, Mark M Tanaka

The American Naturalist | UNIV CHICAGO PRESS | Published : 2018


Organisms often modify their environments to their advantage through a process of niche construction. Environments that are improved through positive niche construction can be viewed as a public good. If free riders appear that do not contribute to the shared resource and therefore do not incur any associated costs, the constructed niche may become degraded, resulting in a tragedy of the commons and the extinction of niche constructors. Niche construction can persist if free riders are excluded, for example, if niche constructors monopolize the resource they produce to a sufficient degree. We suggest, however, that the problem of free riders remains because it is possible that nonniche const..

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Awarded by Australian Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

We thank Kevin Laland for discussions and encouragement, Mike Kasumovic for discussions about spider behavior, and Jai Tree for discussions about bacterial gene regulation. We gratefully acknowledge support from the Australian Research Council (grant FT140100398 to M.M.T.) and the University of New South Wales.