Introductory comments from the editors: The papers in this theme issue demonstrate that the study of cultural evolution is broadly relevant across many disciplines and that numerous fields can also shed new light on cultural evolution. Each article integrates the study of cultural evolution with the perspective of one or more other disciplines, bridging gaps between fields in ways that yield new insights.
27 Positions Available: Niche Choice, Niche Conformance, Niche Construction (NC3)
14 December 2017
A collaborative research centre (SFB) has recently been funded by the German Research Foundation for the period 2018 to 2021 to produce a conceptual and empirical synthesis of individualisation across behaviour, ecology and evolution. As part of this collaborative research centre, a total of 9 Postdoc positions (E13), 16 PhD positions (E13/65%) and 2 half-time technician positions (E9/50%) are available at Bielefeld University, the University of Münster and the University of Jena from 1st of February 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter across 19 Projects.
Process and Pattern in Innovations from Cells to Societies Theme Issue
31 October 2017
The latest issue of Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B is a theme issue, entitled “Process and pattern in innovations from cells to societies“, published online on 23 October 2017. The issue was compiled and edited by Michael Hochberg, Pablo Marquet, Robert Boyd and Andreas Wagner.
Introductory comments from the editors: Innovations are generally unexpected, often spectacular changes in phenotypes and ecological functions. The contributions to this theme issue are the latest conceptual, theoretical and experimental developments, addressing how ecology, environment, ontogeny and evolution are central to understanding the complexity of the processes underlying innovations.
Interface Focus Special Issue: New Trends in Evolutionary Biology
7 September 2017
The special issue of Interface Focus, published on 18 August 2017, contains an excellent collection of papers discussing New Trends in Evolutionary Biology. Post-prints of paywalled articles can be found below, along with final PDFs of open access articles. For final PDFs of paywalled articles (as changes may have been made since the post-print), please contact the authors directly.
Many of the talks can be viewed on our films page and the colloquium’s YouTube channel.
Introductory comments from Andy Whiten, co-organizer of the conference: Biology is the science of life. How our understanding of the nature and evolution of living systems is being enriched and extended through new discoveries about social learning and culture in human and non-human animals is the subject of the collection of articles we introduce here. Recent decades of research have revealed that social learning and the transmission of cultural traditions are widespread amongst animals, shaping adaptive behavior from foraging to predator avoidance and mating behavior, yet this body of work remains to be well integrated into evolutionary biology at large. Progress in such studies is surveyed here in papers on primates, cetaceans, birds and insects. A second series of papers focuses on our own, distinctively hyper-cultural species, reporting progress in understanding its evolutionary and ontogenetic development. Together the studies described in this collection of papers examine how our deeper understanding of culture in both humans and non-human animals extend the scope of evolutionary biology. They delineate ways in which cultural transmission expands our understanding of evolution, echoing features familiar in organic evolution, but also going beyond them in distinctive ways, with different consequences. Organic and cultural evolution interact in forms of gene-culture coevolution that further extend the scope of evolutionary biology.
Vacancy: Postdoc position in evolution and inclusive inheritance
14 July 2017
Applications are invited for a 2-year post-doctoral position to work with Professor Rufus Johnstone in the Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, on mathematical and computational modeling of the evolution of inclusive inheritance.
The successful applicant will work on modeling three mechanisms of inclusive inheritance: (i) social transmission (exploring how social learning and teaching changes across the life-cycle), (ii) epigenetic inheritance (investigating how maternal investment and resource transmission impacts on subsequent health and development), and (iii) ecological inheritance (considering how environmental modulation and niche construction generate group differences in behaviour). There is, however, scope for the focus of the modelling to reflect the interests of the candidate.
One position will focus on mathematical models and computer simulation of the evolution of institutions and cooperation in humans, and is suitable for candidates with a background in modelling social evolution, cultural evolution, evolutionary ecology or other related areas. The other position will focus on the creation of datasets and statistical analysis in order to test these models, and may be suitable for those with experience of assembling comparative datasets or other kinds of datasets for testing human social or cultural evolution, and the ability to conduct a variety of statistical analyses.
Closing date for applications: 19 June 2017 Ideal start date: 1 September 2017 Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Tom Currie ahead of applications to discuss the positions.
Cause and Process in Evolution workshop
1 June 2017
On 11-14 May 2017, approximately 35 evolutionary biologists and philosophers of biology met to discuss the nature of causation in evolution in the first of three EES-hosted workshops. The aim of the workshop was to initiate close interaction and exchange between philosophers of science and biologists, both within the research program and outside it, to reflect on the nature of causation in biological evolution. The EES has a different perspective on causation in evolution, and ascribes a greater range of processes evolutionary significance, than traditional perspectives. The workshop set out to scrutinize these claims, with both philosophers (acting as independent arbiters) and non-project members (including non-sympathizers) present to ensure good debate.
Workshop attendees were live tweeting throughout the talks under the hashtag #CAPIE2017.
The KLI in Klosterneuburg, Austria hosted the event and posted a great photo gallery.
Vacancy: Postdoc position in evolutionary genetic theory
26 May 2017
The Wade lab seeks a collegial, self-motivated, independent, and intellectually curious individual with a recent PhD in Evolutionary Biology or related field(s). The research emphasis is the intersection of population genetics and the evolution of development in complex systems, with an emphasis on models of dual inheritance for investigating general features of indirect genetic effects and niche construction with applications to cyto-nuclear and host-symbiont co-evolution. The candidate will have the opportunity to enrich the interactions between the laboratory groups of Professor Michael Wade and Professor Armin Moczek. The position is fully funded by a multi-year grant from the John Templeton Foundation and available for 24 months.
Applications closing soon. Anticipated start date of July 1, 2017 is desired but negotiable.
The latest book from Kevin Laland, Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony was released today. The book tells the story of three decades of research that led to a new understanding of how culture transformed human evolution.
Humans possess an extraordinary capacity for cultural production, from the arts and language to science and technology. Laland’s research addresses the question of how the human mind – and the uniquely human ability to devise and transmit culture – evolved from its roots in animal behavior. Darwin’s Unfinished Symphony presents a captivating new theory of human cognitive evolution. It is a compelling and accessible book that reveals how culture is not just the magnificent end product of an evolutionary process that produced a species unlike all others – it is also the key driving force behind that process.