The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene

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OUP Oxford, Mar 4, 1999 - Science - 336 pages
11 Reviews
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In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins crystallized the gene's eye view of evolution developed by W.D. Hamilton and others. The book provoked widespread and heated debate. Written in part as a response, The Extended Phenotype gave a deeper clarification of the central concept of the gene as the unit of selection; but it did much more besides. In it, Dawkins extended the gene's eye view to argue that the genes that sit within an organism have an influence that reaches out beyond the visible traits in that body - the phenotype - to the wider environment, which can include other individuals. So, for instance, the genes of the beaver drive it to gather twigs to produce the substantial physical structure of a dam; and the genes of the cuckoo chick produce effects that manipulate the behaviour of the host bird, making it nurture the intruder as one of its own. This notion of the extended phenotype has proved to be highly influential in the way we understand evolution and the natural world. It represents a key scientific contribution to evolutionary biology, and it continues to play an important role in research in the life sciences. The Extended Phenotype is a conceptually deep book that forms important reading for biologists and students. But Dawkins' clear exposition is accessible to all who are prepared to put in a little effort. Oxford Landmark Science books are 'must-read' classics of modern science writing which have crystallized big ideas, and shaped the way we think.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Osdolai - LibraryThing

The Selfish Gene is enough of a classic that it can still be read, understood and enjoyed today. But this follow-up has aged badly. Much of the information is outdated and large sections of the book ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - setnahkt - LibraryThing

This book followed The Selfish Gene and is generally considered a more rigorous treatment of the same theme: that the gene, not the organism or species, is the “unit” of natural selection. I’m not ... Read full review


1 Necker Cubes and Buffaloes
2 Genetic Determinism and Gene Selectionism
3 Constraints on Perfection
4 Arms Races and Manipulation
5 The Active GermLine Replicator
Replicators or Vehicles?
7 Selfish Wasp or Selfish Strategy?
8 Outlaws and Modifiers
12 Host Phenotypes of Parasite Genes
13 Action at a Distance
14 Rediscovering the Organism
Further Reading
Author Index

9 Selfish DNA Jumping Genes and a Lamarckian Scare
10 An Agony in Five Fits
11 The Genetical Evolution of Animal Artefacts

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About the author (1999)

Professor Richard Dawkins is one of the most influential science writers and communicators of our generation. He was the first holder of the Charles Simonyi Chair of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford, a position he held from 1995 until 2008, and is Emeritus Fellow of New College, Oxford. His bestselling books include The Selfish Gene (1976), The Extended Phenotype (1982) and its sequel The Blind Watchmaker (1986), River Out of Eden (1995), Climbing Mount Improbable (1996), Unweaving the Rainbow (1998), A Devil's Chaplain (2004), The Ancestor's Tale (2004), and The God Delusion (2007). He has won many literary and scientific awards, including the 1987 Royal Society of Literature Award, the 1990 Michael Faraday Award of the Royal Society, the 1994 Nakayama Prize for Human Science, the 1997 International Cosmos Prize, and the Nierenberg Prize for Science in the Public Interest in 2009.

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