DragonflyIssuesInEvolution13 Wiki

Gene-culture co-evolution-When biology and culture interact and modify selection pressures.

What an indiviual learns depends on the genotype.Also, the selction process which acts on the genetic system may be modified by the spread of the cultural trait.

One example is human diet. Social behavior and the usage of tools led to larger body size and a change in diet from plants to more protein.

 Factors Gene-Culture Models[]

1. Dynamic models address basic information on adaptations of phenotypic plasticity like learning and culture, or the nature of climate interactions.

2. Culture can generate new mechanisms such as group selection, within an evolutionary process.

3. Time lags between genetic and cultural transmission may develop toward the action of a selected trait.

4. There is a possibility for the occurrence of nonrandom gene/culture associations which would impact selection response.

5. Strong influences on behavior and rapid diffusion, in which some cultures may have a higher selection pressures for some traits compared to others. 

Mechanisms for Gene-Culture Evolution[]

Natural Selection: Results in behavior more adapted to certain environments

Random Variation: Resutls in errors of display or recall of information and learning. Similar to a genetic mutation.

Cultural Drift: Frequncy of cultural traits subject to fluctuations within a population due to chance variations of observation and transmission.

Guided Variation: Cultural traits may develop withina population due to individual learning, which is then passed on to others in that population.

Biased Transmission: Occur when some variations of traits or behaviors are favored more than others within a population.

Gene- culture

Cartoon representing "Biased Transmission"

Demographic Transition - This refers a process that in certain situations, cultural evolution can actually influence the selection of traits that are "genetically maladaptive" (Boyd & Richardson, 2005, p. 172).  For instance, decreasing birth rates in industrialized countries/societies. Gene-Culture coevolution/dual inheritance believe that this phenomenon - a demographic transition - could be the result of a "prestige bias, where individuals that forgo reproduction to gain more influence in industrial societies are more likely to be chosen as cultural models". (Boyd & Richerson, 1985, p. 201).

  1. Boyd, R. and P. J. Richerson. 1985. Culture and the Evolutionary Process. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 199-202.
  2. Jump up ^ Richerson, P. J. and R. Boyd. 2005. Not By Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 169-182.


Feldman, M. & Laland, K. (1996). Gene-culture coevolutionary theory. TREE, 11(11): 453-457.http://lalandlab.st-andrews.ac.uk/niche/pdf/Publication24.pdf