Anthropology | Human Reproductive Ecology
B600 | 15202 | Vitzthum


This advanced-level seminar will explore the theoretical models and
empirical evidence regarding the extent and causes of variation in
human reproductive functioning. The principal focus is on the
physiological and behavioral mechanisms that link variation in
reproductive traits with variation in the physical, biological and
social conditions that an individual must accommodate and exploit for
survival and reproduction. Reproductive traits include age and size at
puberty, at first live birth, and at peak reproductive maturity;
mating strategies; number, size, quality, spacing and sex ratio of
offspring; probability of conception; probability of pregnancy loss;
offspring provisioning including lactation; and age at menopause.
Although the focus is on women, we will also examine what is known of
reproductive variation in men and draw upon the relevant literature on
non-human primates.

The meeting format is principally open discussion augmented by some
lectures in the initial weeks of the course.  Required readings,
completed before each meeting, are drawn from the published scientific
literature (typically 3 articles per week, totaling as much as 40
pages per week).  The grade is based on weekly class participation,
written short summaries of the required readings submitted at each
meeting, and a term project which may take several forms (for example,
literature review, research proposal, research activity) determined in
consultation with the instructor.