Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952453 | Print ISBN: 9780761930297 | Online ISBN: 9781412952453| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Stuart A. Altmann
Adaptation has a diversity of meanings, even within areas in which it is widely used, such as anthropology, biology, the humanities, and in common parlance. The study of adaptations is a central activity in biology, where interpretations of the concept have received much scrutiny in recent years, for example, in the articles and monographs of Andrews, Brandon, Gould and Lewontin, Gould and Vrba, Rose and Lauder, Sober, and Williams. Gould and Verba pointed out the presence of two distinct adaptation concepts in the literature: one historical, emphasizing traits' origins and their past histories of selection, the other nonhistorical, emphasizing current functions of traits and their contributions to fitness. For example, some argue that to be regarded as an adaptation, a trait must have been produced by natural selection, and so must be genetically inherited. Gould and Lewontin distinguished adaptations from exaptions . The latter are preexisting traits that at some ...