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Land Tenure - from aggressive defense of a patch of flowers...

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Land Tenure: Controlling Access to Resources It is frequently claimed that the system of private property and land ownership characteristic of modernity is superior to other systems of land tenure At least three distinct kinds of evidence have been used to support this claim: 1) alleged universality of territoriality in other species 2) unsustainability of communal systems of ownership (or open access) 3) inefficiency of communal ownership/open access First argument, extrapolating from other species to our own, may be faulty in principle, since does not allow for possibility that humans are unique But in any case it is empirically incorrect, since in fact many other species are not territorial; even more interesting, some species are facultatively territorial, switching to For example, detailed studies of nectar-feeding birds have shown that they will switch
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Unformatted text preview: from aggressive defense of a patch of flowers to peaceful coexistence, depending on the rate at which they gain nectar from the flowers (the nectar availability being manipulated experimentally by researchers, who also weighed the birds & measured their energy expenditure under various conditions!) Similar patterns of switching from territorial to open systems of spatial organization have now been observed in dozens of species, ranging from insects to wolves Do you suppose that birds get more territorial when nectar becomes scarce, or less? Most people unfamiliar with this research (or with the underlying theory that guides some of it) expect that territoriality increases with scarcity. But in fact, birds become less territorial when nectar is scarce, a counter-intuitive finding explained in the following section...
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