An Elephant in the Fog: Unifying Concepts of Physiological Stasis and Change

H. Arthur Woods, J. Keaton Wilson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

6 Scopus citations


This chapter compares a set of concepts, some of them proposed just in the last few years, about physiological stasis and change. All of the concepts are derived from the basic idea of homeostasis. The comparison leads to two main conclusions. The first is that physiological stability absolutely requires physiological change and, conversely, change requires stability. The second conclusion is that all of the concepts related to homeostasis are similar in that they identify aspects of a single underlying phenomenon, and the chapter argues that it is time to step back and articulate its key features. Furthermore, that phenomenon can and should be understood in relation to the more general umbrella of ideas known as phenotypic plasticity and canalization. Such synthesis can lead to productive cross-pollination across fields-concepts well known in one field can fertilize rapid change in others; the chapter identifies several examples where such progress may be possible.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIntegrative Organismal Biology
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9781118398814
ISBN (Print)9781118398784
StatePublished - Feb 16 2015


  • Canalization
  • Phenotypic plasticity
  • Physiological change
  • Physiological stasis


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