John Dupré at the Biological Interest Group – Monday, 9th October, 2-3pm, Byrne House

— Dear all,

It is my pleasure to have taken over from Thomas Bonnin as coordinator of the Biological Interest Group. I look forward to the forthcoming year of discussions. If you should need to get in contact with me, my email address is

Benjamin Smart


The first meeting of the new academic year has commenced (9th October), and saw the discussion of two articles co-authored by Professor John Dupré (University of Exeter): ‘Sex-Linked Behavior: Evolution, Stability, and Variability’ (Fine, Dupré & Joel, 2017) and its complement, ‘The Biosocial Genome’ (Müller et al., 2017).

This discussion saw the fruitful exchange of many ideas with John and the group. One point, for example, was the possibility that environmental factors are a source of stable inheritance of sex-linked behavioural traits. Such a possibility may indeed help explain cases where sex-linked traits fail to develop as environmental conditions change. We might think to Rhesus monkeys and how adequate care of their firstborn depends upon early social experiences of the mother (Fine, Dupré & Joel, 2017, p. 670; Seay et al., 1964). This is contrary to the notion of maternal instincts. Similarly, we might also think to the case of male Charles River strain rats. Research has shown that, when placed in close proximity to pups, male rats showed ‘maternal’ behaviour within one week (Fine, Dupré & Joel, 2017, p. 670; Rosenblatt, 1967). Moreover, such a possibility is significant because it extends the debate on the scope of the determinacy of the genome. Thus Fine, Dupré & Joel (2017) challenge the often-assumed idea that genetic inheritance is the only process that provides both phenotypic variation and the reliable transfer of traits.

If you’d be interested in joining the group and discussing John’s paper, please contact us here

Next week (23rd October), we have Çağlar Karaca presenting a paper.


Fine, C., J. Dupré & D. Joel, ‘Sex-Linked Behavior: Evolution, Stability, and Variability’, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 21:9 (2017) 666-673.

Müller, R., C. Hanson, M. Hanson, M. Penkler, G. Samaras, L. Chiapperino, J. Dupré, M. Kenney, C. Kuzawa, J. Latimer, S. Lloyd, A. Lunkes, M. Macdonald, M. Meloni, B. Nerlich, F. Panese, M. Pickersgill, S. Richardson, J. Rüegg, S. Schmitz, A. Stelmach, & P.-I. Villa, ‘The Biosocial Genome? Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Environmental Epigenetics, Health and Society’, EMBO Reports, 18:10 (2017) e201744953. DOI 10.15252/embr.201744953

Rosenblatt, J.S. ‘Nonhormonal basis of maternal behavior in the rat’, Science, 156 (1967) 1512-1513

Seay, B., et al., ‘Maternal behavior of socially deprived rhesus monkeys’, The Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 69:4 (1964) 345-354



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