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Durham University

Department of Anthropology


Publication details for Dr Jeremy Kendal

Kendal, J.R., Tehrani, J.J. & Odling-Smee, J. (2011). Human Niche Construction in Interdisciplinary Focus. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. Biological Sciences 366(1566): 785-792.

Author(s) from Durham


Niche construction is an endogenous causal process in evolution, reciprocal to the causal process of natural selection. It works by adding ecological inheritance, comprising the inheritance of natural selection pressures previously modified by niche construction, to genetic inheritance in evolution. Human niche construction modifies selection pressures in environments in ways that affect both human evolution, and the evolution of other species. Human ecological inheritance is exceptionally potent because it includes the social transmission and inheritance of cultural knowledge, and material culture. Human genetic inheritance in combination with human cultural inheritance thus provides a basis for gene–culture coevolution, and multivariate dynamics in cultural evolution. Niche construction theory potentially integrates the biological and social aspects of the human sciences. We elaborate on these processes, and provide brief introductions to each of the papers published in this theme issue.


Theme issue on Human Niche Construction, guest edited by Kendal, Tehrani & Odling-Smee.