Kevin N Laland received his PhD from University College London in 1990 and is currently Professor of Biology at the University of St Andrews. His research employs both experimental and theoretical methods to investigate a range of topics related to animal (including human) behaviour and evolution, particularly niche construction, social learning, and gene-culture co-evolution. He is the author of over 100 scientific articles and 5 books, including Niche Construction. The Neglected Process in Evolution (2003) Princeton University Press (with John Odling-Smee and Marc Feldman).
Niche construction, human behavior, and the adaptive-lag hypothesis
Article first published online: 20 JUN 2006
Copyright © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Evolutionary Anthropology: Issues, News, and Reviews
Volume 15, Issue 3, pages 95–104, May/June 2006
How to Cite
Laland, K. N. and Brown, G. R. (2006), Niche construction, human behavior, and the adaptive-lag hypothesis. Evol. Anthropol., 15: 95–104. doi: 10.1002/evan.20093
- Issue published online: 20 JUN 2006
- Article first published online: 20 JUN 2006
- human evolution;
- niche construction;
- human behavioral ecology;
- evolutionary psychology;
- adaptive lag
Niche construction is the process whereby organisms modify selective environments, thereby affecting evolution. The niche-construction perspective is particularly relevant to researchers using evolutionary methods to interpret human behavior and society. On the basis of niche-construction theory, we argue against the hypothesis that modern humans experience an atypically large adaptive lag. We stress that humans construct their world largely to suit themselves and frequently buffer adaptive lag through cultural niche construction. Where they are unable to do that, natural selection of genes rapidly ensues. Our argument has implications for evolutionary psychology and human behavioral ecology, and suggests that the methods of the latter are potentially applicable to all human societies, even postindustrial ones.