In The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins crystallized the gene's eye view of evolution developed by W.D. Hamilton and others. The Extended Phenotype provoked widespread and heated debate. Written in part as a response, The Extended Phenotype gave a deeper clarification of the central concept of the gene as the unit of selection; but it did much more besides. In it, Dawkins extended the gene's eye view to argue that the genes that sit within an organism have an influence that reaches out beyond the visible traits in that body – the phenotype – to the wider environment, which can include other individuals. So, for instance, the genes of the beaver drive it to gather twigs to produce the substantial physical structure of a dam; and the genes of the cuckoo chick produce effects that manipulate the behaviour of the host bird, making it nurture the intruder as one of its own. This notion of the extended phenotype has proved to be highly influential in the way we understand evolution and the natural world. It represents a key scientific contribution to evolutionary biology, and it continues to play an important role in research in the life sciences.
The Extended Phenotype is a conceptually deep book that forms important reading for biologists and students. But Dawkins' clear exposition is accessible to all who are prepared to put in a little effort.
1. Necker Cubes and Buffaloes
2. Genetic Determinism and Gene Selectionism
3. Constraints on Perfection
4. Arms Races and Manipulation
5. The Active Germ-Line Replicator
6. Organisms, Groups and Memes: Replicators or Vehicles?
7. Selfish Wasp or Selfish Strategy?
8. Outlaws and Modifiers
9. Selfish DNA, Jumping Genes, and a Lamarckian Scare
10. An Agony in Five Fits
11. The Genetic Evolution of Animal Artefacts
12. Host Phenotypes of Parasite Genes
13. Action at a Distance
14. Rediscovering the Organism
Afterword by Daniel Dennett
"This entertaining and thought-provoking book is an excellent illustration of why the study of evolution is in such an exciting ferment these days."
"The Extended Phenotype is a sequel to The Selfish Gene [...] he writes so clearly it could be understood by anyone prepared to make the effort"
– John Maynard Smith, London Review of Books
"Dawkins is quite incapable of being boring this characteristically brilliant and stimulating book is original and provocative throughout, and immensely enjoyable."
– G. A. Parker, Heredity
"The extended phenotype is certainly a big idea and it is pressed hard in dramatic language."
– Sydney Brenner, Nature
"Richard Dawkins, our most radical Darwinian thinker, is also our best science writer."
– Douglas Adams
"Dawkins is a superb communicator. His books are some of the best books ever written on science."
– Megan Tressider, Guardian
"Dawkins is a genius of science popularization."
– Mark Ridley, The Times