Evolution of the Indoor Biome

NESCent Working Group on the Evolutionary Biology of the Built Environment, Martin LJ, Adams RI, Bateman A, Bik HM, Hawks J, Hird SM, Hughes D, Kembel SW, Kinney K, Kolokotronis SO, Levy G, McClain C, Meadow JF, Medina RF, Mhuireach G, Moreau CS, Munshi-South J, Nichols LM, Palmer C, Popova L, Schal C, Täubel M, Trautwein M, Ugalde JA, Dunn RR, Trends in Ecology and Evolution 30 (4) :223-232 (2015).
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Few biologists have studied the evolutionary processes at work in indoor environments. Yet indoor environments comprise approximately 0.5% of ice-free land area – an area as large as the subtropical coniferous forest biome. Here we review the emerging subfield of ‘indoor biome’ studies. After defining the indoor biome and tracing its deep history, we discuss some of its evolutionary dimensions. We restrict our examples to the species found in human houses – a subset of the environments constituting the indoor biome – and offer preliminary hypotheses to advance the study of indoor evolution. Studies of the indoor biome are situated at the intersection of evolutionary ecology, anthropology, architecture, and human ecology and are well suited for citizen science projects, public outreach, and large-scale international collaborations.