Learning, evolvability and exploratory behaviour: extending the evolutionary reach of learning

Biology and Philosophy 28 (6):933-955 (2013)
Authors
Rachael Louise Brown
Australian National University
Abstract
Traditional accounts of the role of learning in evolution have concentrated upon its capacity as a source of fitness to individuals. In this paper I use a case study from invasive species biology—the role of conditioned taste aversion in mitigating the impact of cane toads on the native species of Northern Australia—to highlight a role for learning beyond this—as a source of evolvability to populations. This has two benefits. First, it highlights an otherwise under-appreciated role for learning in evolution that does not rely on social learning as an inheritance channel nor “special” evolutionary processes such as genetic accommodation (both of which many are skeptical about). Second, and more significantly, it makes clear important and interesting parallels between learning and exploratory behaviour in development. These parallels motivate the applicability of results from existing research into learning and learning evolution to our understanding of the evolution of evolvability more generally
Keywords Evolvability  Learning  Plasticity  Behaviour  Facilitated variation  Evo-devo  Evolution  culture  traditions
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-013-9396-9
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References found in this work BETA

What Evolvability Really Is.Rachael L. Brown - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (3):axt014.
The Question of Animal Culture.Bennett G. Galef - 1992 - Human Nature 3 (2):157-178.

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