Projects in the department of Human Behavior, Ecology, and Culture focus on the application of ethnographic field methods and the integrated study of human life history, behavior, and culture. The department also emphasizes the development of theoretical and statistical models for making sense of longitudinal and comparative data on human adaptation.
A major goal of the department is to build and support a network of long-term field projects. More information on this goal is found below. And see the Fieldwork page for a map of affiliated sites.
More information on individual research projects can be found on the Staff pages, at the Comparative Behavioral Ecology page and at the Theory in Cultural Evolution Lab page.
Human societies display long-form adaptation. Humans adapt behaviorally, and human behavior requires years to acquire and generations to develop. Long-form behavioral adaptations explain our species' extraordinary diversity and its ecological success. At the same time, the cognitive mechanisms and population dynamics that make long-form adaptation possible also make possible evolutionarily novel societies and forms of behavior and technology. Humans have co-existed with these evolutionary novelties for long enough that our genes are adapted to them. The study of long-form adaptation will benefit from long-form research that is both longitudinal and comparative, allowing it to inform theories of human evolution and the dynamics of human societies. Normal human science lacks the necessary infrastructure. The document linked below presents a sketch of a research program. The major goal is to develop a coordinated and longitudinal, but relatively decentralized, field research network. This network takes its empirical direction from current theories of human adaptation. But it is primarily an infrastructure project that would dramatically improve our ability to study the microevolution of human behavior and culture in ecological context.