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What is the CECD? 
The CECD is an AHRC funded research group dedicated to examining the evolutionary underpinnings of human cultural behaviour, past and present. more>

Page Title - projects
Phase 2: Theme B - Cultural and linguistic diversity: Project B012
The Evolutionary Ecology of Human Cultural Group Diversity

SUPERVISOR: - Prof. Ruth Mace

Tom Currie (Hasegawa Laboratory, Department of Cognitive and Behavioral Science, The University of Tokyo)
Ruth Mace (Department of Anthropology, University College London)

PROJECT FUNDING: Project Funding – ESRC/NERC Interdisciplinary Award Cards Against Humanity
fridge freezers

Human cultural groups are not distributed evenly across the world's surface. Several authors have noted a latitudinal gradient in the densities of cultures and languages with higher densities towards the equator than towards the poles, which parallels a similar gradient seen in biological species richness. The exact mechanism by which this distribution has arisen is not well understood, however. We are applying methods and theory from evolutionary ecology and incorporating ethnographic, environmental, and ecological data using GIS technology to test different hypotheses that could explain this pattern. Initial results suggest the degree of social stratification exhibited by a society is a key factor. Further investigations, using the phylogenetic comparative method, will examine what kind of ecological factors are important in the evolution of social stratification, with a regional focus on the Austronesian-speaking societies of the Pacific. We are also using computer simulations to model the evolution of human cultural group diversity.

Final Report not received

Holtby, I., C. Scarre, R.A. Bentley, P. Rowley-Conwy (2012).
Disease, CCR5-∆32 and the European spread of agriculture? . Antiquity. Vol 86:207-210.
Currie TE, Mace R (2009).
Political complexity predicts the spread of ethnolinguistic groups. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA). Vol 106(18):7339-44.
Greenhill SJ, Currie TE, Gray RD (2009).
Does horizontal transmission invalidate cultural phylogenies?. Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences. Vol 276(1665):2299-306.
Catherine J. E. Ingram et al (incl. Thomas, M.G. ) (2007).
A novel polymorphism associated with lactose tolerance in Africa: multiple causes for lactase persistence?. Human Genetics. Vol 120:779–788.