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Human Behavorial Ecology

Costs and benefits of diverse strategies aim toward optimal behaviors
-assumes organisms strive for the best possible adaptive responses to environmental problems
ex. Diet breadth: People look at resources around them and rank them
Optimal Foraging: What gives me the greatest return for the amount of energy I exert?


Cultural Niche Construction

The management of landscape and use of culture as a buffer for habitat challenges

In prehistory:
-Deliberate management of landscape (by hunter- gatherer societies)
-Innovations in technology (changes in technology are changes in culture)
-Passing of traditional knowledge onto future generations


Gene-Culture Coevolution

Inheritance interaction between cultural practices and genetics which act together as an interlinked system of evolution
-Self-imposed cultural practices are responsible for some genetic changes in humans
- Persistence for lactose tolerance in some adults (culture before gene adaptation). Correlation between dairy farming and lactose tolerance


"Thrifty" gene

Genes which enable individuals to efficiently collect and process food to deposit fat during periods of food abundance in order to provide for periods of food shortage (feast and famine).
-Polynesians: Type 2 diabetes associated with "thrifty metabolism"


Biocultural Framework

-An evolving system, with interactive feedback between behavioral changes & ecosystems
-"Glass ceiling" existed on the amount of information that could be carried (retained) over long periods of time



Natural selection acts on social behaviors
-No longer supported


Evolutionary Psychology

Culture in the mind evolves to meet challenges posed by natural selection
-Deals with evolution of psychological mechanisms resulting in human behavior
-Human mind is adapted to the hunter-gatherer lifeways of our ancestors
Problem: How would you be able to analyze or predict the behavior and mind of past beings?


Infectious Diseases

-Selective effects of diseases (i.e. Smallpox and Native Americans)
-Diseases that have "come-back" (i.e. tuberculosis)
-Diseases that have adapted (i.e. flesh-eating pneumonia)
-New strains (i.e. SARS-Sever Acute Respiratory Syndrome) [Possibly a mutant form of the common cold]


Epidemiological transitions in hominin evolution:

1) Agricultural (food-producing economy)
-Development of community
-Larger group of people means closer proximity—easier transmition of diseases
-Domestication of animals brought new diseases—transfer from animals to us
2) Advent of medical society in late 19th century
3) Emergence of new diseases and re-emergence of old diseases


Anthropocene Epoch

A proposed epoch that begins when human activities started to have a significant global impact on Earth's geology and ecosystems
-When cultural practices potentially can affect current and future human evolution