The 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. You can find more information about us, our study questions, and our publications from the menu links above.
Recent social and cultural adaptations have cast doubt on the continued relevance of Darwinian selection in humans. Yet, differences among individuals can still lead to selection favouring certain heritable traits, even if many survive to old age: not everyone has the same family size, and many forego reproduction altogether. When coupled with heritable traits linked to differences in reproductive rate, this could 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 up to 15 generations), coupled with records on year-to-year variation in harvest success, disease outbreaks, and local demography, to investigate how the strength and direction of selection on key fitness traits changed with the modernisation of society.