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Developmental Niche

The developmental niche is the space or structure that caregivers construct to protect and foster their immature offspring. The nests that birds build in which they lay and hatch their eggs are a good example, but many species, including humans, construct developmental niches (also called ontogenetic niches). There is growing interest in the concept of developmental niche, for several reasons. One of these reasons is the growing appreciation of the importance of context, and of culture, in children’s development. Another is a changing view of evolution, including the proposal that niche construction is central to the evolutionary process. These are changing our understanding of ontogenesis—the development of the individual organism from conception to reproductive maturity and ultimately death. This entry discusses first how evolutionary theory ...

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