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Richard Dawkins

The Extended Phenotype by Richard Dawkins

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“The Extended Phenotype” is a book by Richard Dawkins, published in 1982. It expands upon the ideas presented in his earlier work, “The Selfish Gene.” In “The Extended Phenotype,” Dawkins introduces the concept of the phenotype as not just limited to the organism itself, but also including its effects on the environment. He argues that genes can influence not only the organism’s physical traits but also its behavior and the environment around it, which in turn can affect the survival and reproduction of other organisms.

Dawkins explores various examples to illustrate his concept of the extended phenotype, including the behavior of parasites, the construction of beaver dams, and the behavior of social insects like ants and termites. He discusses how genes can shape these external manifestations and how this understanding can provide insights into evolutionary processes.

Overall, “The Extended Phenotype” is a significant contribution to evolutionary biology, challenging traditional views of the gene as solely responsible for an organism’s traits and behavior. Instead, it emphasizes the complex interactions between genes, organisms, and their environments in shaping the course of evolution.


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