A new look at the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis

I present the initiatives, papers, and ideas of Pigliucci, Müller, and others, who are proposing an Extended Evolutionary Synthesis (EES). I then advance some reasons for concern raised by those claims, including uncertainties in timing, historical inaccuracies, lack of a theoretical structure, arbitrariness and instability of the included concepts, stereotypical characterization of the Modern Synthesis, […]

Phenotypic variation in ecological setting

Organisms are niche constructors: they impact the environment and modify selective pressures that direct their own evolution as well as that of their non-conspecific fellows in ecological systems at various scales. The theoretical acknowledgement of niche construction has inspired many reflections about the active role of organisms in evolution, often proclaiming a revolutionary theoretical change. […]

The challenge of tree-thinking and network-thinking

This talk gives a reflexive outlook on the employment of tree and network thinking to conceptualize and model vertical descent and horizontal transmission of cultural traits. In biology, evolutionary trees are more than tools for researchers across disciplines: they are the main framework within which evidence for evolution is evaluated (Baum et al. 2005). However, […]

Adaptive vs exaptive in the evolution of human language

The poster was presented by Irene Berra. Human articulate language doesn’t involve clearly distinguishable structures and substructures but shows distributed functions. Clues coming from brain comparative studies and neuroimaging point out that cortical structures and connections have been re-functionalized during the evolution of primates and hominids, due to their plasticity and learning capacity. But also […]

Criticizing adaptive landscapes, ecology and genealogy

Disentangling ecological vs. genealogical dimensions is a core task of hierarchy theory in evolutionary biology. As Eldredge repeatedly epitomized, organisms carry out (only) two distinct kinds of activities: they survive, and they reproduce. At the organismal level, the organism stays the same whether we consider it ecologically or genealogically – yet, differences can occur in […]