The Potential Integration of Niche Construction Theory within the Framework of Human Behavioral Ecology

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 17 March, 2016 - 15:45
, Kathryn - University of Utah
, Brain - University of utah

Throughout the history of hominid evolution, our ancestors developed the ability to adapt to extremely different environments and eventually colonize the entire world. The capacity to adapt to environments as different as the Amazon Rainforest and the Arctic tundra is complex, and has led some anthropologists to question the utility of Neo-Darwinian evolutionary frameworks. The debate over the utility of these frameworks has become more heated recently, with some proposing the use of Niche Construction Theory (NCT) as an alternative to Human Behavioral Ecology (HBE). Here, we propose that, instead of viewing NCT as an alternative to HBE, niche constructing behavior can (and has been) integrated within HBE models. We discuss three examples to show how these two theoretical frameworks articulate with one another, including a discussion of animal domestication in the Near East, human fire use in California, and clam garden construction on the Northwest Coast.