My name is Tyler Tretsven, and I am a recent graduate from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities with a double major in Anthropology and Psychology with focuses on human behavioral evolution and cognitive neuroscience. My interests are in the interactions between cognition, evolution, and culture. I live in Minneapolis, MN.
About the name of the site:
A species’ ecological niche in evolutionary biology can be regarded as the life plan of its members. It describes the environment in which the species lives and all of the ways in which the organism has adapted to live within it, physically and behaviorally.
Humans now inhabit virtually all of the terrestrial biomes on the planet while remaining one distinct species. It was not a change in the human body that allowed our ancestors to take over each new environment (though some changes have since occurred, like skin pigment and the ability for adults to drink milk), it was a unique change in their behavior. They began to innovate technologies that allowed them to quickly adapt their behavior to new environments. More importantly, however, they began to socially transmit these technologies to each other with an unmatched fidelity to create cultures, or localized patterns of foraging behaviors, social conventions, and knowledge that could themselves evolve to best fit an environment and adapt to its changes.
Humans can thus be said to occupy a “cultural niche,” as some have named it (most importantly Rob Boyd, Peter Richerson, and Joseph Henrich (2010) from whom I commandeered the name of this site). While we do not share a common environment, as most members of a species would, we share a common cultural strategy that allows us to live in all of environments we inhabit.