Human Ecology

, Volume 18, Issue 2, pp 177–185 | Cite as

Yams and megapode mounds in the lowland rain forest of Papua New Guinea

  • Peter D. Dwyer
  • Monica Minnegal


Kubo people of Papua New Guinea sometimes grew Dioscorea yams in mounds of forest litter that were made as egg-incubation sites by birds (Megapodiidae).' The small yam plots were included within larger banana gardens and, in the latter, it was yams, not bananas, that took precedence in the gardening decisions of people. The technique would be viable in the absence of a larger garden. It is interpreted as an expression of an ancient pattern of small-scale plant domestication.

Key words

tropical rain forest plant domestication yams megapodes Kubo Papua New Guinea 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allen, J. (1977). The hunting Neolithic: Adaptations to the food quest in prehistoric Papua New Guinea. In Megaw, J. V. S. (Ed.),Hunters, Gatherers and First Fanners Beyond Europe. Leicester University Press, Leicester.Google Scholar
  2. Bailey, R. C., Head, G., Jenike, M., Owen, B., Rechtman, R., and Zechenter, E. (1989). Hunting and gathering in tropical rain forest: Is it possible?American Anthropologist 91: 59–82.Google Scholar
  3. Beehler, B. M., Pratt, T. K., and Zimmerman, D. A. (1986).Birds of New Guinea. Princeton University Press, Princeton.Google Scholar
  4. Coates, B. J. (1985).The Birds of Papua New Guinea (Vol. I). Dove Publications, Alderley, Australia.Google Scholar
  5. Dwyer, P. D. (1981). Two species of megapode laying in the one mound.The Emu 81: 173–174.Google Scholar
  6. Dwyer, P. D., and Minnegal, M. (in press). Hunting and harvesting: The pursuit of animals by Kubo of Papua New Guinea. In Pawley, A. (Ed.),Man and a Half: Essays in Pacific Anthropology and Ethnobiology in Honour of Ralph Bulmer.Google Scholar
  7. Endicott, K. (1979). The hunting methods of the Batek Negritos of Malaysia: A problem of alternatives.Canberra Anthropology 2(2): 7–22.Google Scholar
  8. Headland, T. N. (1987). The wild yam question: How well could independent hunter-gatherers live in a tropical rain forest ecosystem?Human Ecology 15: 463–491.Google Scholar
  9. Hide, R. L., Pernetta, J. C., and Senabe, T. (1984). Exploitation of wild animals. In Hide, R. L. (Ed.),South Simbu: Studies in Demography, Nutrition, and Subsistence (Vol. VI),Research Report of the Simbu Land Use Project. Institute of Applied Social and Economic Research, Boroko, Papua New Guinea.Google Scholar
  10. Hynes, R. A., and Chase, A. K. (1982). Plants, sites and domiculture: Aboriginal influence upon plant communities in Cape York Peninsula.Archaeology in Oceania 17: 38–50.Google Scholar
  11. Kisokau, K. (1976). A study in the biology of the megapodes of west New Britain.Papua New Guinea Bird Society Newsletter 121: 18–20.Google Scholar
  12. Ohtsuka, R. (1983).Oriomo Papuans: Ecology of Sago Eaters in Lowland Papua. University of Tokyo Press, Tokyo.Google Scholar
  13. Rindos, D. (1984).The Origins of Agriculture: An Evolutionary Perspective. Academic Press, New York.Google Scholar
  14. Swadling, P. (1983).How Long Have People Been in the Ok Tedi Impact Region. Papua Guinea National Museum Record No. 8, pp. 1–196.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter D. Dwyer
    • 1
  • Monica Minnegal
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of QueenslandAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Anthropology and SociologyUniversity of QueenslandAustralia

Personalised recommendations