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Population Aggregation in Ancient Arid Environments

Marco A Janssen, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University

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Abstract

Human societies have adapted to spatial and temporal variability, such as that found in the prehistoric American Southwest. A question remains as to what the implications are of different social adaptations to long-term vulnerability of small-scale human societies. A stylized agent-based model is presented that captures small-group decision making on movements and resource use in ancient arid environments. The impact of various assumptions concerning storage, exchange, sharing, and migration on indicators of aggregation and sustainability are explored. Climate variability is found to increase the resilience of population levels at the system level. Variability reduces the time a population stays in one location and can degrade the soils. In addition to climate variability, the long-term population dynamics is mainly driven by the level of storage and the decision rules governing when to migrate and with whom to exchange.

Key words

agent-based model; archaeology; arid landscapes; climate variability
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087