Application of the ecocultural range expansion model to modern human dispersals in Asia

Joe Yuichiro Wakano, Seiji Kadowaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Modern human dispersal to Asia is drawing more researchers' attention as more Asian records become available in archaeology, paleoanthropology and genetics. The ecocultural range expansion model, based on ecological competition between archaic and modern humans and on a population-culture feedback loop, predicts two types of modern human range expansion, namely the first wave and the second wave. This ‘two-wave model’ has been applied to dispersal from the Levant to Europe. Here, in order to apply this model to dispersal in Asia, we modify the model to allow multiple origins of ‘high culture’, which is defined as something that increases carrying capacity and corresponds to the Early Upper Paleolithic in context of Europe. Comparing with empirical records, we suggest that the multiple-origin model explains dispersal to North Asia better than the single-origin model. As for dispersal to South-Southeast Asia and Wallacea, we propose forest or maritime adaptations as 'skills' of the model. We will discuss how empirical records can be interpreted, including pre- and post-50 ka dispersal hypotheses, if we adopt the ecocultural model.

Original languageEnglish
JournalQuaternary International
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Adaptation
  • Culture
  • Lotka-Volterra reaction-diffusion model
  • Traveling wave
  • Upper paleolithic

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