Articles written in Journal of Biosciences
Volume 26 Issue 5 December 2001 pp 561-570 Perspectives
Looking for single causes, whether genetic or environmental, may yield answers of a kind, but little sense of what happens as each individual grows up. The language of nature versus nurture, or genes versus environment, gives only a feeble insight into the processes that I have called developmental cooking. The best that can be said of the nature/nurture split is that it provides a framework for uncovering a few of the genetic and environmental ingredients that generate differences between people. At worst, it satisfies a demand for simplicity in ways that are fundamentally misleading.
Volume 30 Issue 1 February 2005 pp 31-39
The long trend towards analysis at lower and lower levels is starting to reverse. The new integrative studies must make use of the resources uncovered by molecular biology but should also use the characteristics of whole organisms to measure the outcomes of developmental processes. Two examples are given of how movement between levels of analysis is being used with increasing power and promise. The first is the study of behavioural imprinting in birds where many of the molecular and neural mechanisms involved have been uncovered and are now being integrated to explain the behaviour of the whole animal. The second is the triggering during sensitive periods in early life by environmental events of one of several alternative modes of development leading to different phenotypes. A renewed focus on the whole organism is also starting to change the face of evolutionary biology. The decision-making and adaptability of the organism is recognized an important driver of evolution and is increasingly seen as an alternative to the gene-focused views.
Volume 39 Issue 2 April 2014 pp 191-200 Articles
Explanations for biological evolution in terms of changes in gene frequencies refer to outcomes rather than process. Integrating epigenetic studies with older evolutionary theories has drawn attention to the ways in which evolution occurs. Adaptation at the level of the gene is givingway to adaptation at the level of the organism and higher-order assemblages of organisms. These ideas impact on the theories of how cooperation might have evolved. Two of the theories, i.e. that cooperating individuals are genetically related or that they cooperate for self-interested reasons, have been accepted for a long time. The idea that adaptation takes place at the level of groups is much more controversial. However, bringing together studies of development with those of evolution is taking away much of the heat in the debate about the evolution of group behaviour.
Volume 47, 2022
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