Landscape Learning in Relation to Evolutionary Theory

  • Marcy Rockman


Change in location or environment in and of itself does not entail cultural change at the macroevolutionary scale. However, consideration of the processes by which human populations develop, remember, and transmit to others environmental information from the time of colonization of a given region onward is an important component in understanding how social groups construct and respond to their natural world. Changes in the interactions between groups and their natural environment are a key feature of the transitions that macroevolutionary theory seeks to explain. Therefore, landscape learning is an important tool in the macroevolutionary kit. Landscape learning proceeds through the development of locational, limitational, and social knowledge. Locational knowledge is constrained by Bauplan; limitational knowledge responds dynamically to appropriate scales of environmental change. Social knowledge, the composite of shared locational and limitational knowledge, develops through social learning and is thereby subject to the multiple biases of the transmission process. Behavioral holons describe feedback between environmental information and social response, which may create punctuations in group-level environmental learning. Compilation of responses to environmental interaction may be one means of determining that a shift in adaptive peak is necessary or appropriate. This combination of environmental knowledge structures and the processes of holon feedback described by the landscape learning model has great relevance to our efforts to understand the patterns of long-term human–environment interaction and inform studies of macroevolution.


Inductively Couple Plasma Mass Spectrometry Social Knowledge Locational Knowledge Environmental Information Limitational Knowledge 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Preparation of this chapter was supported in part by the Wenner-Gren Foundation Richard Carley Hunt Fellowship Program (Grant No. 7310). Initial research on this topic was supported by the National Science Foundation (Grant No. 003709), the Wenner-Gren Foundation (Dissertation Fieldwork Grant 6776), and the University of Southampton Centre for the Evolutionary Analysis of Culture. Steven L. Kuhn, Katharine MacDonald, David Meltzer, Margaret Beck, and Kara Cooney provided invaluable comments on earlier versions.


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© Springer-Verlag New York 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Statistical Research, Inc., Cotsen Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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