PhD Human Biology Evolution

Hunting and gathering have been the major occupation of humans since homo sapiens emerged (200,000 years ago). Although it has been the longest and most diverse bio-cultural adaptation in humanity’s existence, we know very little about the ways in which hunter-gatherers have adapted to pressures and maintained their resilience. While the number of hunter-gatherers that have disappeared is unknown, the consequences of their extinction are evident in humanity’s current low genetic diversity, and in the uneven distribution of languages, where 95% of the world’s languages are spoken by only 6% of the world’s population. Diminishing genetic and linguistic diversity is matched by diminishing biodiversity. Since the remaining hunter-gatherers live in some of the world’s most important biodiversity hotspots this project will explore the relationships between these key areas of diversity for humanity’s general resilience in a period of rapid natural, social and technological change.

Our Leverhulme funded project, Hunter-gatherers Resilience, studies hunter-gatherers in Congo (Mbendjele), Malaysia(Batek), Thailand (Maniq) and the Philippines (Agta), using behavioural ecology, life history theory, theories of cooperation, cultural transmission and genetics to explore how variation in life history traits, kin selection, mate systems, cooperative behaviour, differentially contribute to hunter-gatherer resilience in the past, present and future