6.13: Human Population
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How do humans adapt to their environment?
It could be said that the human population does not have to adapt to its environment, but forces the environment to change to suit us. We can live practically anywhere we want, eat all types of food, and build all types of housing. Because of all of these "adaptations," our population has grown, after a slow start, considerably fast.
The Human Population
Humans have been called the most successful "weed species" Earth has ever seen. Like weeds, human populations are fast growing. They also disperse rapidly. They have colonized habitats from pole to pole. Overall, the human population has had a pattern of exponential growth, as shown in Figure below. The population increased very slowly at first. As it increased in size, so did its rate of growth.
Early Population Growth
Homo sapiens arose about 200,000 years ago in Africa. Early humans lived in small populations of nomadic hunters and gatherers. They first left Africa about 40,000 years ago. They soon moved throughout Europe, Asia, and Australia. By 10,000 years ago, they had reached the Americas. During this long period, birth and death rates were both fairly high. As a result, population growth was slow.
Humans invented agriculture about 10,000 years ago. This provided a bigger, more dependable food supply. It also let them settle down in villages and cities for the first time. The death rate increased because of diseases associated with domestic animals and crowded living conditions. The birth rate increased because there was more food and settled life offered other advantages. The combined effect was continued slow population growth.
- Early humans lived in small populations of nomadic hunters and gatherers. Both birth and death rates were fairly high. As a result, human population growth was very slow.
- The invention of agriculture increased both birth and death rates. The population continued to grow slowly.
- Describe human population growth rates.
- How did the invention of agriculture affect human birth and death rates? How did it affect human population growth?
|[Figure 1]||Credit: James Cridland
License: CC BY 2.0
|[Figure 2]||Credit: Hana Zavadska
Source: CK-12 Foundation
License: CC BY-NC 3.0