Human Ecology

, Volume 37, Issue 5, pp 643–651 | Cite as

Genetic Feedback and Human Population Regulation

  • Russell HopfenbergEmail author


Human population growth has been identified as a primary cause of ecologically destructive phenomena and, if left unchecked, will threaten the survivability of the human species. It has been demonstrated that genetic feedback is the mechanism by which species achieve ecological balance. The present analysis shows the applicability of this mechanism to human population regulation. In this model, the traits of behavior and culture are explained as following a four step process, similar to, and nested within genetic evolution. As species extinction is part and parcel of evolution, and environmental circumstances are changing rapidly, the population regulatory change that would take place on the genetic level of integration would be human extinction. However, the change on the cultural level, requiring a revision of the social contingency from “food production must be increased to feed a growing population” to “food production increases cause population increases,” would lead to human sustainability.


Agriculture Ecology Evolution Extinction Food availability Food production 



I thank David Pimentel for his foundational work and discussion which precipitated and enhanced this paper. I also thank Steven Salmony for his encouragement, Cole and Emily Hopfenberg for their patience and inspiration, and Edie Hopfenberg for her tireless support and review of all drafts.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Duke UniversityDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Chapel HillUSA

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