Validating niche-construction theory through path analysis


Under the conventional view of evolution, species over time come to exhibit those characteristics that best enable them to survive and reproduce in their preexisting environments. Niche construction provides a second evolutionary route to establishing the adaptive fit, or match, between organism and environment, viewing such matches as dynamical products of a two-way process involving organisms both responding to problems posed by environments as well as setting themselves new problems by changing their environments through further niche construction. Path analysis forces researchers to specify how variables relate to one another and encourages development of clear and logical theories concerning the processes that influence a particular outcome. As we show through a case study—the coevolution of cattle husbandry and the tolerance for milk consumption—path analysis can also call attention to potential areas of weakness and ambiguity in data sets and how they are used in constructing archaeological and evolutionary inferences.

SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit for instructions and more information.

Cite this Record

Validating niche-construction theory through path analysis. R. Alexander Bentley, William Brock, Michael O'Brien. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395370)


Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -11.074; min lat: 37.44 ; max long: 50.098; max lat: 70.845 ;