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Demography and Life History Theory

This was a new class for Winter 2007. Unfortunately, the Stanford Bulletin description of this class was essentially identical to Human Population Biology, despite the fact that it was quite a different class. The class is theoretically integrated demographic method and theory course dealing with questions surrounding the evolution of the human life cycle. As such, we focuses on some methods and tools like optimization models, matrix population models. Readings for the class are drawn primarily from the classics in the field which, in my experience, are frequently cited but rarely read. See the course web site for more information.

Course Description: 

Problems in life history theory and evolutionary demography applied to the human life cycle. The class will emphasize developing an understanding the classical models of life history theory and their relevance for understanding human evolution. Special emphasis will be placed on assumptions of the classical models are violated by empirical patterns of the human life cycle. In particular, we will focus on complications with classical theory introduced by age-structure. Topics include continuous and discrete time population models for age-structured populations, scaling and allometry, the evolution of reproductive effort in constant and variable environments, the evolution of clutch size and quality/quantity trade-offs more generally, state-dependent life history tactics, models of somatic growth, senescence, the evolution of childhood, and post-reproductive survival. Prerequisites: HUMBIO 137 or consent of instructor. (HEF III, V) (DA-C).