Time filter

Source Type

Stulp G.,London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine | Stulp G.,University of Groningen | Barrett L.,University of Lethbridge | Barrett L.,Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystems Research Unit
Biological Reviews | Year: 2016

Human height is a highly variable trait, both within and between populations, has a high heritability, and influences the manner in which people behave and are treated in society. Although we know much about human height, this information has rarely been brought together in a comprehensive, systematic fashion. Here, we present a synthetic review of the literature on human height from an explicit evolutionary perspective, addressing its phylogenetic history, development, and environmental and genetic influences on growth and stature. In addition to presenting evidence to suggest the past action of natural selection on human height, we also assess the evidence that natural and sexual selection continues to act on height in contemporary populations. Although there is clear evidence to suggest that selection acts on height, mainly through life-history processes but perhaps also directly, it is also apparent that methodological factors reduce the confidence with which such inferences can be drawn, and there remain surprising gaps in our knowledge. The inability to draw firm conclusions about the adaptiveness of such a highly visible and easily measured trait suggests we should show an appropriate degree of caution when dealing with other human traits in evolutionary perspective. © 2016 Cambridge Philosophical Society.


Peter Henzi S.,University of Lethbridge | Peter Henzi S.,Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystems Research Unit | Forshaw N.,University of Lethbridge | Forshaw N.,Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystems Research Unit | And 5 more authors.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2013

Primate social life and behaviour is contingent on a number of levels: phylogenetic, functional and proximate. Although this contingency is recognized by socioecological theory, variability in behaviour is still commonly viewed as 'noise' around a central tendency, rather than as a source of information. An alternative view is that selection has acted on social reaction norms that encompass demographic variation both between and within populations and demes. Here, using data from vervet monkeys (Chlorocebus aethiops pygerythrus), we illustrate how this alternative approach can provide a more nuanced account of social structure and its relation to contingent events at the ecological and demographic levels. Female vervets in our South African study population live in large groups, where they experience demographic stress and increased levels of feeding competition relative to an East African population in Amboseli, Kenya. Females in the South African population did not respond to this stress by intensifying competition for high-value grooming partners to help alleviate the effects of this stress, did not show the expected rank-related patterns of grooming, nor did they show any spatial association with their preferred grooming partners. Increased group size therefore resulted in a reorganization of female social engagement that was both qualitatively and quantitatively different to that seen elsewhere, and suggests that female vervets possess the flexibility to shift to alternative patterns of social engagement in response to contingent ecological and demographic conditions. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


Stulp G.,University of Groningen | Stulp G.,London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine | Mills M.,University of Groningen | Mills M.,Nuffield College | And 3 more authors.
American Journal of Human Biology | Year: 2014

Objectives: Although male height is positively associated with many aspects of mate quality, average height men attain higher reproductive success in US populations. We hypothesize that this is because the advantages associated with taller stature accrue mainly from not being short, rather than from being taller than average. Lower fertility by short men may be a consequence of their and their partner's lower scores on aspects of mate quality. Taller men, although they score higher on mate quality compared to average height men, may have lower fertility because they are more likely to be paired with taller women, who are potentially less fertile. Methods: We analyzed data from The Integrated Health Interview Series (IHIS) of the United States (N=165,606). Segmented regression was used to examine patterns across the height continuum. Results: On all aspects of own and partner quality, shorter men scored lower than both average height and taller men. Height more strongly predicted these aspects when moving from short to average height, than when moving from average to taller heights. Women of a given height who scored lower on mate quality also had shorter partners. Conclusions: Shorter men faced a double disadvantage with respect to both their own mate quality and that of their spouses. Scores of taller men were only marginally higher than those of average height men, suggesting that being tall is less important than not being short. Although effect sizes were small, our results may partly explain why shorter and taller men have lower fertility than those of average stature. Am. J. Hum. Biol. 26:530-537, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.


Barrett L.,University of Lethbridge | Barrett L.,Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystems Research Unit | Blumstein D.T.,University of California at Los Angeles | Clutton-Brock T.H.,University of Cambridge | And 2 more authors.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2013

In this concluding paper, we revisit Tinbergen's 1963 article and assess its impact on the field of behavioural research in general, and the papers in this volume in particular. We show how Tinbergen's insistence that greater attention should be paid to studies of 'survival value' has yielded immense returns over the past 50 years, allowing an integrative biology of behaviour to emerge and thrive, and that his addition of ontogeny to the 'major problems of biology' was both insightful and prescient. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.


Barrett L.,University of Lethbridge | Barrett L.,Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystems Research Unit | Peter Henzi S.,University of Lethbridge | Peter Henzi S.,Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystems Research Unit | Lusseau D.,University of Aberdeen
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2012

Understanding human cognitive evolution, and that of the other primates, means taking sociality very seriously. For humans, this requires the recognition of the socio cultural and historical means by which human minds and selves are constructed, and how this gives rise to the reflexivity and ability to respond to novelty that characterize our species. For other, non-linguistic, primates we can answer some Interesting questions by viewing social life as a feedback process, drawing on cybernetics and systems approaches and using social network neo-theory to test these ideas. Specifically, we show how social networks can be formalized as multi-dimensional objects, and use entropy measures to assess h ow networks respond to perturbation. We use simulations and natural 'knock-outs' in a free-ranging baboon troop to demonstrate that changes in interactions after social perturbations lead to a more certain social network, in which the outcomes of interactions are easier for members to predict. This new formalization of social networks provides a framework within which to predict network dynamics and evolution, helps us highlight how human and non-human social networks differ and has implications for theories of cognitive evolution. © 2012 The Royal Society.


Kappeler P.M.,University of Gottingen | Kappeler P.M.,Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology Unit | Barrett L.,University of Lethbridge | Barrett L.,Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystems Research Unit | And 2 more authors.
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences | Year: 2013

This paper introduces a Theme Issue presenting the latest developments in research on the interplay between flexibility and constraint in social behaviour, using comparative datasets, long-term field studies and experimental data from both field and laboratory studies of mammals. We first explain our focus on mammals and outline the main components of their social systems, focusing on variation within- and among-species in numerous aspects of social organization, mating system and social structure. We then review the current state of primarily ultimate explanations of this diversity in social behaviour. We approach the question of how and why the balance between behavioural flexibility and continuity is achieved by discussing the genetic, developmental, ecological and social constraints on hypothetically unlimited behavioural flexibility. We introduce the other contributions to this Theme Issue against this background and conclude that constraints are often crucial to the evolution and expression of behavioural flexibility. In exploring these issues, the enduring relevance of Tinbergen's seminal paper 'On aims and methods in ethology', with its advocacy of an integrative, four-pronged approach to studying behaviour becomes apparent: an exceptionally fitting tribute on the 50th anniversary of its publication. © 2013 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.

Loading Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystems Research Unit collaborators
Loading Applied Behavioural Ecology and Ecosystems Research Unit collaborators