Biography:

In the past Henry Harpending has collaborated on articles with Gregory Cochran. One of their most recent publications is Fitness in stratified societies. Which was published in journal Ethology and Sociobiology.

More information about Henry Harpending research including statistics on their citations can be found on their Copernicus Academic profile page.

Henry Harpending's Articles: (3)

Fitness in stratified societies

AbstractWhen wealth or social status can be transmitted from parents to offspring and when fitness depends on wealth or social status, evolutionary consequences of individual transmission strategies can be described by a parameter, called long-term fitness by Rogers (1990), which is the expected relative contribution of an individual to the gene pool in the long-term future. We show how to measure and use this parameter in two models of general interest in sociobiology. First, we construct a system with social classes and hypergynous marriage. Our treatment includes a method for computing the fitnesses of the two sexes separately. As expected, upper-class males have the highest long-term fitness in this kind of social structure, followed by lower-class females, then lower-class males and upper-class females. Upper-class preference for sons would be favored by selection in this system, but not female unwillingness to marry down—in this sense such systems do not conform to a Darwinian model. We then study a system with one sex and three social classes, the poorest of which has very low single generation fitness. In this system, the class with the highest single generation fitness does not have the highest long-term fitness. We suggest that this system is a useful model for understanding the changes in reproductive behavior that occured during the demographic transition in Europe. We suggest that the absence of a destitute lower class in Africa may help explain the failure, so far, for signs of demographic transition to appear in Africa.

9 - Evolutionary Responses to Infectious Disease

Publisher SummaryThis chapter discusses the evolutionary responses to infectious disease. Pathogen dynamics can have a major influence on long-term demographics and typically require a minimum number of hosts in fairly close proximity in order to survive. The biggest demographic change experienced by humans was the population explosion made possible by the development of agriculture which had a fundamental impact on human infectious disease. Pathogens that already infected humans had greater impacts on fitness, while new pathogens arose could only spread in high-density populations. The case of malaria illustrates a number of principles about the relationship between infectious disease, biological and social evolution in humans. Malaria has another characteristic that increases its severity and is also a clear example of convergent evolution. The worldwide fall of fertility rates following the Industrial Revolution in northern nations suggests that a stable non-Malthusian world is attainable without the unpleasantness and misery of violence and infectious disease. Falciparum malaria not only causes much human misery directly, it also leaves in its wake damaging genetic traces that may take hundreds of generations to dissipate. It become apparent in the last decade that evolution in humans is an ongoing process that is even speeding up the face of drastic cultural change. Clark has proposed that genetic change during the millennium before the Industrial Revolution led to essentially a new version of humans that made the revolution possible. A possibility is that the decline in pressure from infectious disease freed up much of the genome to evolve in new directions determined by the new social environment.

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