Human Evolution @ UCL


Hurdles out of Africa: how climate shaped the history of human migrations

18 May 2016, 3:00 pm–4:00 pm

Out of Africa

Event Information

Open to



Gavin de Beer Lecture Theatre (Anatomy Building), Gower Street, London, UK, WC1E 6XA

Speaker: Dr Anders Eriksson (Integrative Systems Biology Lab, Division of Biological and Environmental Sciences & Engineering, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Thuwal (KAUST), Saudi Arabia)

Host: Mark Thomas


Geography and the environment shape migrations, population bottlenecks and local movements of individuals, and thereby the patterns of genetic variation within the species. In this talk I will discuss how spatially explicit models, informed by past climate and ethnically diverse datasets of human genetic variation, can be used to infer how climate and vegetation affected the spread of anatomically modern humans out of Africa into Eurasia and the Americas and shaped genetic variation. During this process, humans encountered environments that differed dramatically from those where our species originated. This would have presented both challenges and opportunities, and set the stage for adaptation. However, the effects of specific adaptations on genetic variation can be confounded by the general demographic response to the new environments, such as local population bottlenecks. I will discuss how climate-informed spatial models can help to disentangle these factors by providing clear signatures of different forms of selection in specific geographic contexts.

All are welcome!