Humans have colonized diverse environments so that specific genes, providing adaptation to each environment, are highly likely to have locally evolved (such as adaptation to high-altitude hypoxia). These genes provide adaptation to a local, or specific, environment through a permanent physiological change or, alternatively, a behavioural change. Numerous genes are known to influence behaviour in experimental settings, such as alleles at the dopamine receptor locus D4 (DRD4), which is associated with attitudes toward risk. However, direct evidence of selection acting on such genes is, to date, lacking. Active volcanoes and their exposed populations represent unique assets in the study of the roots of such adaptation responses. The aims of this project are thus to: 1) study risk-taking people behaviour across contrasting environments, both at-risk and (almost) without risk; 2) examine the possibility of a local adaptation to risky environments; and 3) identify all relevant selected genes involved in this local adaptation. The at-risk environments considered are flanks and surrounding plains of hazardous, active volcanoes, on which stable rural groups have developed. A pilot study carried out at Merapi volcano (Indonesia) has already demonstrated the existence of the local adaptation phenomenon in such a risky volcanic environment, and has formed the basis of a interdisciplinary approach that allows collection of suitable data so as to examine the phenomenon. This project furnish three major outputs that will impact knowledge in the domains of evolutionary biology, economics and volcanology / risk analysis by: (a) providing evidence of genetic local adaptation to specific environments; (b) defining the link between genes associated with, as well as behaviour and attitudes toward, risky environments; and (c) providing experimental field data that will demonstrate the usefulness of interdisciplinary studies in achieving major breakthroughs in human evolutionary biology.
Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution (Laboratoire public)
The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.
Laboratoire Magmas et volcans - UMR 6524
Institut des Sciences de l'Evolution
Help of the ANR 367,100 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: November 2017 - 48 Months