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Department of Evolutionary Anthropology

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Human Evolutionary Ecophysiology

Throughout the evolution of our species, natural environments have provided the parameters within which natural selection has acted to shape our biology. During the last 200-300 years, however, urban centres have rapidly become human’s primary habitat. This change has created an environmental mismatch; a situation in which biological function is impaired due to an incompatibility between the natural ancestral environment that humans are primarily adapted to, and the contemporary urban environment that we currently occupy.

These detrimental effects of this mismatch include unprecedented levels of chronic physiological and psychological stress, and the associated down-stream negative health consequences, and hindered biological function (i.e. immune, cognitive, physical and reproductive). The Human Evolutionary EcoPhysiology research group has two research aims:

  1. To understand how H. sapiens adapt to novel environments.
  2. To apply evolutionary theory to improve Nature Therapy research for the betterment of contemporary human health and function.

To achieve these dual aims, we conduct experimental research that utilises theory and applied methods from the fields of biological anthropology, human physiology, ecology, psychology and human performance.

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The Human Evolutionary Ecophysiology research group is run as a collaborative partnership lead by Dr. Colin Shaw (University of Zurich) and Dr. Danny Longman (Loughborough University (UK)). All research is conducted jointly and all graduate students are co-supervised by both lead PI’s.