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Baldwin effectBaldwin-Effekt (ger.)

  • The idea that phenotypic plasticity is a crucial element for the operation of natural selection. In the 1950s, some blue tits in Britain learned to peck away the caps of milk bottles and drink some of the milk. Those capable of learning this were strongly advantaged; in each generation, those which were more and more focused on milk-bottle-opening were selected for, so that a mere ›capacity to learn‹ became a ›drive to open milk bottles‹.
    (Oxford Dict. of Zoology 2009)
    Characters individually acquired by members of a group of organisms may eventually, under the influence of selection, be reenforced or replaced by similar hereditary characters. That is the essence of the evolutionary phenomenon here called »the Baldwin effect«.
    Simpson, G.G. (1953). The Baldwin effect. Evolution 7, 110-117: 110; cf. Weber, B.H. (2003). Evolution and Learning. The Baldwin Effect Reconsidered.
    Many observations, previously interpreted in Lamarckian terms or as the Baldwin effect, are presumably due to the same threshold-selection effect.
    Mayr, E. (1963). Animal Species and Evolution: 190.

    Baldwin effect The genetic assimilation of acquired characters; the reinforcement or replacement of environmentally induced phenotypic adaptations by similar hereditary characters under the influence of selection. 

    Lincoln, R.J., Boxshall, G.A. & Clark, P.F. (1982). A Dictionary of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics: 28.