Animal Domestication

  • Christine M. Rodrigue
Reference work entry

Animal domestication is the process by which humans exert direct or indirect, conscious or unconscious influence over the reproduction and evolution of animals that they own or otherwise manage (Rodrigue 1987: 1). There is quite an extensive continuum between wild species utilized as resources by humans and fully domesticated species (Russell 2002; Terrell et al. 2003). The question of “origins” depends on a choice of where to draw the line between “wild” and “domesticated” along this continuum, and that choice is often the basis of arguments about the “earliest domestication” of many species.

A fully domesticated animal exhibits significant genotypic and phenotypic differences from its nearest wild relatives due to its evolution under conditions dominated by humans. The domestication of animals and plants is one of the most important impacts that humans have had on their natural environments, ultimately the root of the contemporary global economic system and its marvels and tragedies....

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  • Christine M. Rodrigue

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