Anthroecology theory explains why and how human societies gained the capacity to transform ecology across our entire planet. The theory couples the dynamics of social and ecological change through evolutionary processes acting on human cultures, ecosystems, and infrastructures. Anthroecology aims to understand the ultimate causes of anthropogenic environmental change, not just the consequences, to help shape a better future for both people and the rest of nature.

Anthroecology is based on Sociocultural Niche Construction, an evolutionary theory introduced in a 2015 Ecological Monograph to explain the long-term coupling of social, cultural, and ecological changes, including the emergence of agricultural societies, domesticated species, and their environmental transformations, through coevolutionary processes described by the Extended Evolutionary Synthesis.

Read the Ecological Monograph for the deep dive into Anthroecology theory.

This general article and this blog post are good readings on the basics of Anthroecology.

This article shows how an Agent-Based Virtual Laboratory could be used to test core hypotheses of Anthroecology theory.

Learn more about Anthroecology
through this 2016 presentation at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

[Video begins at 9 min 35 seconds]

Related Publications

Ellis, Erle C.. 2015. Ecology in an Anthropogenic Biosphere. Ecological Monographs 85(3): 287–331. [Download PDF]
Ellis, Erle C.. 2016. Why Is Human Niche Construction Transforming Planet Earth?. Molding the Planet: Human Niche Construction at Work no. 5: 63-70. [Download PDF]
Ellis, Erle C.. 2016. Humans: The Species That Changed Earth. Social Evolution Forum February 22, 2016 [Download PDF]
Ellis, Erle. 2016. Evolving toward a better Anthropocene. Future Earth Blog March 29, 2016 [Download PDF]
Ellis, Erle C.; Richerson, Peter J.; Mesoudi, Alex; Svenning, Jens-Christian; Odling-Smee, John; Burnside, William R.. 2016. Evolving the human niche. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113(31): E4436. [Download PDF]
Ellis, Erle C.; Magliocca, Nicholas R.; Stevens, Chris J.; Fuller, Dorian Q.. 2018. Evolving the Anthropocene: Linking multi-level selection with long-term social-ecological change. Sustainability Science 13(1): 119–128. [Download PDF]
Magliocca, Nicholas R.; Ellis, Erle C.. 2016. Evolving human landscapes: a virtual laboratory approach. Journal of Land Use Science 11(6): 642-671. [Download PDF]

Related People

Erle C. Ellis

Lab Director

My research investigates the ecology of anthropogenic landscapes and their changes at local to global scales.

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