Human life-history group is an academic research group based at the University of Turku, Finland. We study human life-history traits, natural selection and evolution in human populations.
Recent social and cultural adaptations have cast doubt on the continued relevance of Darwinian selection in humans. Yet, in both traditional and industrialized societies, differences among individuals still lead to selection favouring certain heritable traits because although survival to old age can be high, not everyone has the same family size and many forego reproduction altogether. This coupled with heritable traits linked to differences in reproductive rate might lead to rapid changes in the genetic makeup of populations. So does the modern environment itself fuel evolution, and how have the recent drastic demographic shifts to low birth and death rates affected the opportunity for selection or specific trait selection? We use longitudinal demographic data from Finland spanning 300 years and ~15 generations, coupled with records on year-to-year variation in harvest success, disease outbreaks or local demography, to investigate how the strength and direction of selection on key fitness traits changed with the modernization of society.