Mosquitoes in the Field: Malaria, Farmers and Culturally-Induced Evolution
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Ever since Charles Darwin’s revolutionary book "On the Origin of Species" was published in 1859, evolution via adaptation and natural selection has dominated the life sciences. Since the 1980s, a complement to genetic selection has been developed: Niche construction theory. Niche construction is the coevolutionary feedback loop in which organisms make modifications (ecosystem engineering) to their local environments (niches)—usually as a non-genetic adaptation—and in which these self-modified environments then exert an evolutionary pressure back onto the organism. This paper seeks to show that niche construction is not a product of natural selection, but rather an independent evolutionary process in its own right, challenging the idea that humans cannot affect their own evolution.
Winner of the 2015 Library Award for Undergraduate Research.