Human Ecology

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 129–138 | Cite as

Lévy Flights in Dobe Ju/’hoansi Foraging Patterns

  • Clifford T. BrownEmail author
  • Larry S. Liebovitch
  • Rachel Glendon


We analyzed data on Ju/’hoansi hunter–gatherer foraging patterns and found that their movements between residence camps can be modeled as a Lévy flight. The step lengths of their movements scale as a power law with an exponent μ = 1.97. Their wait times (residence times) at the camps also scale as a power law (μ = 1.45). A Lévy flight with step lengths μ = 2 is an optimal search pattern for scarce, randomly located targets; thus, the Ju/’hoansi foraging pattern may approach an optimal search in this area of sparse plant and animal resources. These findings affect the application of optimal foraging theory to humans in anthropology and archaeology because they alter the way in which search and travel times should be quantified. These results may also carry implications for the study of other patterns of human movement, such as demic diffusion and migration.

Key words

Lévy flights hunter–gatherers optimal foraging theory Ju/’hoansi 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clifford T. Brown
    • 1
    Email author
  • Larry S. Liebovitch
    • 2
  • Rachel Glendon
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA
  2. 2.Center for Complex Systems and Brain Science, Center for Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, and Department of PsychologyFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA
  3. 3.ChicagoUSA

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