Evolutionary ecology of human reproduction

Annu Rev Anthropol. 1998;27:347-74. doi: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.27.1.347.


PIP: This article reviews the evolutionary ecology of human reproduction. The evolutionary ecology of human reproduction is defined as the application of natural selection theory to the study of human reproductive strategies and decision-making in an ecological context. The life history theory provides two crucial tools for evolutionary reproductive ecology. First, it identifies trade-off problems in reproductive investment. Second, the evolutionary physiology and psychology analyze the adaptive mechanism regulating reproduction. Because of the ecology of fecundity, fertility, child-care strategies, and differential parental investment resulted to advanced empirical insights. Also included in this article are the following three theoretical aspects for future improvement in evolutionary human reproductive ecology: a) the significance of and the interaction between different levels of adaptability (genetic, ontogenetic, and contextual) for the adaptive solution of reproductive problems; b) the dialectics of constraints and adaptive choices in reproductive decisions; and c) the dynamics of demographic change.

MeSH terms

  • Demography*
  • Fertility*
  • Models, Theoretical*
  • Population
  • Population Dynamics
  • Reproduction*
  • Research
  • Social Sciences