Ecology and Group Size - Ecology and Group Size One...

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Ecology and Group Size One fundamental aspect of spatial organization is the degree to which members of a population are aggregated vs. more evenly dispersed If we define aggregating at the level of settlement (camp, village, town, etc.), we can rephrase this as question of the average settlement size (Note that settlement size is in principle independent of population size or density: in a given area, the same 1,000 people could be concentrated into a single town, or they could be rather evenly dispersed into 10 hamlets averaging 100 people) There are a number of ecological factors that could influence whether larger or smaller settlements are more adaptive (beneficial to the survival and reproductive success of the inhabitants) For example, spatial distribution of key resources might be concentrated or dispersed, which in turn might strongly influence optimal settlement pattern (as discussed in the Cashdan reading) This is ecological rather than environmental determinism, because relevant resources will differ according to technology, the social system, etc. (e.g., for same environment, foragers' resources might be dispersed, while arable land might be concentrated) In many cases, the ecological relationship between the spatial distribution of resources and that of people might be less direct, as in the advantages of information-sharing in locating unpredictable caribou herds, or the need to cooperate in defense against enemy raids, either of which might favor aggregation into larger settlements
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