the unBalanced ecoLOGist

2 March 2016

The easiest way to start a blog appears to be to link and comment on postings I’ve done elsewhere.

After the storm. Royalston, Massachusetts, 13 December 2008

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to write a commentary about an online essay written by Erle Ellis for the Social Evolution Forum (a project of the Evolution Institute). In his essay, Humans: The Species That Changed Earth, Erle writes that

Global climate change, widespread extinctions, and pervasive pollution are just a few of the many symptoms of the global environmental changes produced by human activities. There is a growing consensus that human societies have emerged as a “great force of nature” that is shifting Earth into a new epoch of geologic time, the Anthropocene. Why? Biology alone cannot explain this.

Erle goes on to explore a new evolutionary theory, which he terms sociocultural niche consruction, and its link to the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis, to explain the origins of the capacity of Homo sapiens to transform the Earth (see also Mesoudi 2016).  In my commentary, Are humans really different and does it matter if they’re not, I reflect on whether Erle’s new evolutionary theory and the ongoing global anthropogenic transformation of the biosphere can fit comfortably within our standard theories and models of ecological and evolutionary dynamics or whether the patterns and processes of sociocultural niche construction in the “Anthropocene” necessitate new ways of thinking about and practicing evolutionary ecology.

Although Erle and I have some differences on the need for a new evolutionary theory, we agree on the fundamentals.

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