Biological Theory’s March issue is a thematic collection on “Conceptualizing the Environment in Natural Sciences.” Edited by Gaëlle Pontarotti, Antoine C. Dussault, and Francesca Merlin, the volume examines the concept of the “environment,” a notion that is increasingly pervasive and central to the life sciences.
Two of the articles, by Ferhat Taylan and Gustavo Caponi, delve into the history of the concept of environment, looking, respectively, at Lamarckian environmentalism and at the shift in the understanding of environment with Charles Darwin. Gaëlle Pontarotti’s article questions the use of environment in studies of “extended inheritance,” while Antoine C. Dussault turns to ecology, addressing Charles Elton’s “functional” niche concept.
Other papers focus on the uses of the environment concept in evolutionary biology, with Denis Walsh criticizing the customary view of the evolutionary environment as wholly external to organisms, and Hugh Desmond exploring what it means to adapt to environmental “complexity” or “uncertainty.” Lastly, Philippe Huneman problematizes environment as a theoretical concept, analyzing its varying meanings in evolution and ecology.
The new cover for volume 17 (2022) features a work by Hungarian-born artist László Moholy-Nagy (1895-1946), a figure associated with the Bauhaus in the 1920s who was known for his experimental use of cameras and scientific instruments in his creations. The cover painting is CH Space 6 (1941, 119 x 119 cm, oil on canvas; image courtesy of The Moholy-Nagy Foundation).
Read the issue here.