Human Ecology

, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 259–295 | Cite as

Constraints on population growth: The case of the Polynesian Outlier Atolls in the precontact period

  • Tim Bayliss-Smith


A model of the subsistence economy of an insular population is proposed in which the various factors that might influence the potential carrying capacity of the environment are made explicit as a set of ecological and cultural constraints on subsistence production. The application of the model to the Polynesian Outlier Atolls is discussed, and a formula is suggested whereby the population potential of any stable and bounded ecosystem can be calculated, using data on agricultural area, productivity, and diets. The actual size of precontact populations of the Outliers and other atolls appears to have been 70–80% of the predicted carrying capacity, which accords well with ethnographic evidence for population homeostasis.


Environmental Management Population Growth Agricultural Area Actual Size Carry Capacity 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tim Bayliss-Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of GeographyUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeEngland

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