On organism: Environment buffers and their ecological significance

Biology and Philosophy 23 (3):403-416 (2008)
We consider, from a physical perspective, the case where the interface between an organism and its environment becomes large enough that it acts as a buffer regulating their matter and energy exchanges. We illustrate the physiological and evolutionary role of buffers through the example of lungfish estivation. Then we ponder the relevance of buffers of this kind to the quest for a general definition of concepts like niche construction, the extended phenotype, and related ones, whose meaning is conveyed at present mostly through particular examples. Finally, we comment on the potential significance of buffers to organism—environment codetermination in the sense originally suggested by Lewontin.
Keywords Philosophy   Evolutionary Biology   Philosophy of Biology
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DOI 10.1007/s10539-007-9107-5
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