Theories of Niche Construction and Optimal Foraging: weaknesses and virtues in understanding the early stages of domestication
Keywords:Diet breadth, evolutionary ethnobiology, management, domestication
The transition from hunter-gatherer condition to the development of agricultural practices has provided one of the greatest technological advances of humanity. In view of the importance of this phenomenon and still persistent gaps, theoretical models emerge to elucidate issues related to the beginning of the domestication of animals and plants, a crucial moment for understanding socioecological and evolutionary factors that are determinant for environmental manipulation. Two theoretical models are relevant in this discussion: theories of optimal foraging and niche construction. In this sense, this mini-review highlights the debate of these two perspectives on the beginning of domestication highlighting weaknesses and virtues of each proposal.
Casas A, Caballero J, Mapes C, Zárate S (1997) Manejo de la vegetación, domesticación de plantas y origen de la agricultura em mesoamérica. Boletín de la Sociedad Botánica del México 61: 31-47.
Dai X, Zhang W, Xu J, Duffy KJ, Guo Q (2017) Global pattern of plant utilization across different organisms: Does plant apparency or plant phylogeny matter? Ecology and Evolution 7:2535–2545.
Emlen J (1966) The role of time and energy in food preference. American Naturalist 100:611–617
Gonçalves PHS, Albuquerque UP, Medeiros PM (2016) The most commonly available woody plant species are the most useful for human populations: a meta-analysis. Ecology and Application doi:10.1002/eap.1364
Gremillion KJ, Barton L, Piperno D (2014) Particularism and the retreat from theory in the archaeology of agricultural origins. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111(17):6171–6177.
Hawkes K, O’Connell JF (1992) On optimal foraging models and subsistence transitions. Current Anthropology 33:63–65.
Heiser CB (1988) Aspects of unconscious selection and evolution of domesticated plants. Euphytica 37: 77-81.
Jones EL, Hurley DA (2017) Beyond Depression? A Review of the Optimal Foraging Theory Literature in Zooarchaeology and Archaeobotany. Ethnobiology Letters 8: 35–42
Laland KN, Odling-Smee FJ, Feldman MW (2001) Cultural niche construction and human evolution. Journal of Evolution Biology 14:22–33
Lins Neto EMF, Peroni N, Casas A, Parra F, Aguirre X, Guillén S, Albuquerque UP (2014) Brazilian and Mexican experiences in the study of incipient domestication. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-33
MacArthur R, Pianka E (1966) On optimal use of a patchy environment. American Naturalist 100:603–609.
Molenhoff KA, Brenner Coltrain J, Codding B (2015) Optimal foraging theory and niche-construction theory do not stand in opposition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America doi: 10.1073/pnas.1507637112
Smith BD (2015a) A comparison of niche construction theory and diet breadth models as frameworks of explanation for the initial domestication of plants and animals. Journal of Archaeology Resource doi:10.1007/s10814-015-9081-4
Smith BD (2012) A Cultural Niche Construction Theory of Initial Domestication. Biology Theory doi: 10.1007/s13752-012-0028-4
Smith BD (2016) Neo-Darwinism, niche construction theory, and the initial domestication of plants and animal. Evolutionary Ecology doi: 10.1007/s10682-015-9797-0
Zeder MA (2015a) Core questions in domestication research. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 112(11):3191–3198.
Zeder MA (2015b) Reply to Molenhoff et al.: Human behavioral ecology needs a rethink that nicheconstruction theory can provide. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America doi: 10.1073/pnas.1508096112
Zeder MA (2016) Domestication as a model system for niche construction theory. Evolutionary Ecology 30:325–348.