Cultural ecology anthropology, or more commonly shortened to cultural ecology, is a subfield of study in anthropology. It began in the middle 1950s with Julian Steward. With his book, The Theory of Culture Change. In this work, Steward explained the study of humans as they created various processes to adapt to their environment. His theory of how this was done became popular with archeologists. As time has past his ideas have become greatly modified, but have now found greater application than ever before.
The study of human behavior and its culture response to a changing environment is happening all over the world in great numbers. There are more people living today on the planet than ever before, and there are pressures from the environment from shortages of resources. This includes many basic necessities such as food and water. The entire ecosystem is changing. Ice is melting, waters are rising, temperatures are changing; there are droughts in areas where there was once rain, a flooding in unexpected regions. All of this is effecting crops, domestic animals raised for food, as well as clean water. With all of the information gathered in the past, there is now a wealth of real time data being generated all over the world.
Today the field of anthropology is more important than ever before. Originally this area of study was focused on small groups, but with the population of the world merging, what one group does in one place of the world can affect others thousands of miles away. The cultural adaptations may benefit one group but hurt another. New technologies are creating unexpected adaptive cultural behaviors that are not always positive on the environment. The future of a changing physical environment will have dramatic influence on the importance of the study of cultural ecology and may in turn lead to new cultural adaptations.