Developing a Modern Toolkit to Study the Co-evolution of Human Subsistence & Social Behavior Open Access

Ringen, Erik (Summer 2022)

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This dissertation aimed to develop a modern theoretical and computational toolkit for comparative research, with applications to three studies of the co-evolution of human subsistence and social behavior. In Chapter 2, I drew on a cross-cultural sample of 73 societies and a phylogenetic supertree of human populations to assess how cross-cultural variation in food sharing norms map onto differences in human subsistence economies and social organization. Consistent with a risk-buffering function, sharing was found to be less likely in societies with alternative means of smoothing production and consumption such as animal husbandry, food storage, and external trade. In Chapter 3, I introduced a new method for testing coevolutionary hypotheses with phylogenetic data and applied it to the question of how ‘complex’ societies evolved. I found that subsistence intensification is a leader, not a follower, in the rise of 'complex' societies worldwide. In Chapter 4, I investigated the social structure of dietary variation among Tsimane of lowland Bolivia, developing a modeling framework to estimate multilevel cultural variation from fine-grained behavioral datasets. I found that most dietary variation is structured at the household and local network level, rather than at the individual or community level. These chapters exemplify the potential for a revitalized comparative method to investigate the co-evolution of human subsistence and social behavior and offer innovations that are relevant for the study of human evolution and cross-cultural variation more broadly.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction 1

Dissertation Overview 1

Section 1: The Comparative Method in Anthropology 1

Section 2: Background & Overview of Dissertation Studies 13

References 20

Chapter 2: The evolution of daily food sharing: A Bayesian phylogenetic analysis 38

Abstract 39

Introduction 40

Materials and methods 48

Results 58

Discussion 64

References 69

Chapter 3: Novel phylogenetic methods reveal that resource-use intensification drives the evolution of “complex” societies 82

Abstract 83

Introduction 84

Part 1: Inferring complexity and its causal relationship with subsistence 89

Part 2: Dynamic coevolutionary model 95

Discussion 99

Methods 103

References 117

Chapter 4: Multilevel structure of diet among Tsimane forager-farmers 126

Introduction 127

Materials and Methods 129

Results 134

Discussion 136

References 138

Chapter 5: Conclusion 146

Introduction 146

Individual vs Group Level Data 147

The Geography of Phylogeny 148

B.B.M.B. 151

References 153

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