Philosophical perspectives on ecological niches

CRC TRR-212 Workshop
15-16 July 2019, University of Münster

The ecological niche is a key conceptual tool for capturing the intricate interactions between an organism and its environment. Within ecology, the niche is generally taken to comprise any environmental factors that determine the establishment or survival of a population. More recently, evolutionary biologists have argued that the way organisms construct their niches is an important evolutionary process. Finally, a number of ecologists, evolutionary biologists and behavioral biologists have argued that individuals may have niches that are subsets of the population niche.

The niche concept cries out for philosophical attention. Questions abound about the ontological status of niches, the way the niche concept is tied up with concepts of fitness and function, the implications of niche individualization, and much more. This workshop will open up a space for much needed philosophical attention to ecological niches and stimulate discussions of its implications for other areas in philosophy of biology and philosophy more generally.

External Speakers

Antoine C. Dussault (Collège Lionel-Groulx/Université du Québec à Montréal)
Alkistis Elliott-Graves (University of Helsinki)
Holger Schielzeth (University of Jena)
Alan C. Love (University of Minnesota)
James Justus (Florida State University)


Download the programme here.

Print a copy of our poster.

Student bursaries

We offer a limited number of travel grants (up to 250 EUR for travel and accommodation) for students and PhD students to participate in the workshop. If you want to apply, please include a brief letter of motivation and your CV with your registration for the workshop.

Registration and further information

To register, contact Behzad Nematipour.


Prof. Ulrich Krohs (University of Münster)
Prof. Marie I. Kaiser (Bielefeld University)
Rose Trappes (Bielefeld University)
Behzad Nematipour (University of Münster)

This workshop takes place as part of the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Centre at the University of Münster, Bielefeld University and Jena University A Novel Synthesis of Individualisation across Behaviour, Ecology and Evolution: Niche Choice, Niche Conformance, Niche Construction (NC³).