Cultural traits, behaviors that are learned from others, can change more rapidly than genes and can be inherited not only from parents but also from teachers and peers.
How does this complex process of cultural evolution differ from and interact with genetic evolution?
Our research builds on knowledge about learned behaviors from linguistics, animal behavior, and anthropology by integrating techniques and data from population genetics. By combining empirical and theoretical approaches to the study of genetics and learned behaviors, research in the Creanza lab targets three fundamental questions:
(1) In what ways can learned behaviors change the course of genetic evolution?
(2) How much information about evolutionary history persists in learned behaviors?
(3) How do ecological factors, such as environmental and species interactions, affect the evolution of learned behaviors?
We address these questions by integrating the study of human linguistic and genetic variation, the evolution of learned birdsong in a genetic context, and theoretical and computational models of genetic and cultural evolution.
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