This paper presents a stylized bioeconomic model of hunter-gatherer foraging effort designed to study the process of intensification on open-access resources. A critical insight derived from the model is that the very success of an adaptation at the level of an individual forager group can create system-level vulnerabilities that subsequently feed back to cause emergent social change. The model illustrates how the intensification of harvest time by individuals within a habitat creates a forager-resource system that becomes vulnerable to perturbations. When the system is vulnerable, it is characterized by two resource harvest equilibria: a sustainable, low-effort equilibrium and a degraded, high-effort equilibrium. In this situation, the forager-resource system can be shocked back and forth between these different equilibria by perturbations, generating considerable risk for foragers. We use the model to isolate the ecological conditions under which the instability of the system generates the risk that foragers will experience a shortfall of resources, and we suggest a mechanism that might lead foragers to adopt social institutions that regulate who can access a habitat as an adaptive response. As an illustration of the potential utility of the insights drawn from the model, comparisons are made with a substantial ethnographic data set.
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The authors wish to acknowledge financial support from the National Science Foundation (grant BCS-1113991). We would also like to thank four anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript. Their efforts have significantly improved the manuscript.
Appendix: XPPAUT code
Appendix: XPPAUT code
The following code is designed to be run as an .ode file (e.g., HG.ode). The file can be run using the program XPPAUT, available for download at http://www.math.pitt.edu/bard/xpp/xpp.html. Lines marked by the pound sign (#) are comment lines that describe the functions that follow.
#simple model of hunter-gatherer land use intensification
par k = 1, r = 0.3, l = 1, p = 0.1, ga = 0.05, c = 0.02
par q = 0.2, m = 0.7, al2 = 0.1, al1 = 4, be = 3, ead = 5, eads = 0.01
#per capita harvest per unit effort and cost
#resource flow deficit
#effort response to uptake levels
edot(h,d,c)= (al1*d*h**be - al2*c**be)/(c**be + h**be)
#strength of response
e_resp = ead*e/(eads+e)
#aux cap = C
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Freeman, J., Anderies, J.M. Intensification, Tipping Points, and Social Change in a Coupled Forager-Resource System. Hum Nat 23, 419–446 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12110-012-9154-8
- Resource intensification
- Territoriality and land tenure
- Bioeconomic model