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Niche construction is the process whereby organisms, through their activities and choices, modify their own and each other’s niches. By transforming natural selection pressures, niche construction generates feedback in evolution, on a scale hitherto underestimated, and in a manner that alters the evolutionary dynamic. Advocates of the niche-construction perspective seek to develop a new approach to evolution – one that treats niche construction as a fundamental evolutionary process in its own right. This approach has become known as‘niche construction theory’ (NCT).

LeafTies

Leaf ties

Niche construction also plays a critical role in ecology, where it supports ecosystem engineering and eco-evolutionary feedbacks, and part regulates the flow of energy and nutrients through ecosystems.NCT is also starting to have an impact in a variety of other disciplines, including the human sciences, philosophy of biology, medicine, developmental biology and conservation biology. In any one discipline the impact of NCT may still yet be modest, but across them collectively it is starting to become a powerful interdisciplinary movement.

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