Archaeological Colloquium: „Rethinking Domestication: Seed-dispersal-based mutualisms“

May 02, 2022 from 06:30 PM to 08:30 PM

Hybrid event

Dr. Robert Spengler • Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Jena.

When thinking about plant domestication, most of us immediately think about ancient
sickle harvesting and seed sowing, as leading to tough rachises in wheat and barley, but the other seed dispersal properties in crop progenitors are rarely discussed. The first steps toward domestication are evolutionary responses for the recruitment of humans as dispersers. Plants that evolved traits to support human-mediated seed dispersal express greater fitness in increasingly anthropogenic ecosystems. The loss of dormancy, reduction in seed coat thickness, increased seed size, pericarp density, and sugar concentration all led to more focused seed dispersal through seed saving and sowing. I argue that a better understanding of these early steps in the long domestication process can be clarified by looking at the ways plants and animals evolve in the wild. In this talk, I will explore some of these ideas in relation to plant domestication and look at case studies from the Silk Road trade routes that led to both the dispersal and the domestication of certain plants. Humans are the most successful seed dispersers on the planet, and plants evolve in response to mutualistic relationships for seed dispersal.


Hybrid event:

ZOOM: Link
Venue: Johanna-Mestorf-Straße 2-6, Johanna-Mestorf-Hörsaal/Online


Download abstract here.
Download Archaeological Colloquium / Summer Term 2022 Programme here

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