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Hunter–Gatherers Optimize Their Foraging Patterns Using Lévy Flights

  • Clifford T. Brown
  • Larry S. Liebovitch
  • Rachel Glendon
Chapter

Abstract

We present evidence that human hunter-gatherers employ foraging movement patterns that are described by the statistics of Lévy flights rather than by conventional Gaussian statistics. Human movement across the landscape is not usually considered an anthropological problem as such. For example, Green (1987, p. 273) observed that the way foragers move between resource patches has been the subject of little quantitative work. Nevertheless, movement patterns influence not only foraging itself but also cultural diffusion, demic diffusion, gene flow, and perhaps migration into virgin territory. So the discovery of Lévy flights in foraging patterns carries implications for various theories in anthropology, including optimal foraging theory as applied to hunter-gatherers and by extension for archeological models of human subsistence settlement systems in prehistory. Moreover, it may help us understand the processes of diffusion and migration. Here, however, we focus our discussion on the implications for optimal foraging theory in cultural ecology and archeology.

Keywords

Step Length Migration Distance Spider Monkey Average Travel Time Resource Patch 
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

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Clifford T. Brown
    • 1
  • Larry S. Liebovitch
    • 1
  • Rachel Glendon
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA

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