The adaptive nature of culture : a cross-cultural analysis of the returns of local environmental knowledge in three indigenous societies
Reyes-García, Victòria (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals)
Guèze, Maximilien (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals)
Díaz Reviriego, Isabel (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals)
Duda, Romain (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals)
Fernández-Llamazares, Álvaro (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals)
Gallois, Sandrine (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals)
Napitupulu, Lucentezza (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals)
Orta Martínez, Martí (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals)
Pyhälä, Aili (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals)

Date: 2016
Abstract: Researchers have argued that the behavioral adaptations that explain the success of our species are partially cultural, i. e. , cumulative and socially transmitted. Thus, understanding the adaptive nature of culture is crucial to understand human evolution. We use a cross-cultural framework and empirical data purposely collected to test whether culturally transmitted and individually appropriated knowledge provides individual returns in terms of hunting yields and health and, by extension, to nutritional status, a proxy for individual adaptive success. Data were collected in three subsistence-oriented societies: the Tsimane' (Amazon), the Baka (Congo Basin), and the Punan (Borneo). Results suggest that variations in individual levels of local environmental knowledge relate to individual hunting returns and to self-reported health, but not to nutritional status. We argue that this paradox can be explained through the prevalence of sharing: individuals achieving higher returns to their knowledge transfer them to the rest of the population, which explains the lack of association between knowledge and nutritional status. The finding is in consonance with previous research highlighting the importance of cultural traits favoring group success, but pushes it forward by elucidating the mechanisms through which individual and group level adaptive forces interact.
Note: Unidad de excelencia María de Maeztu MdM-2015-0552
Note: Número d'acord de subvenció EC/FP7/261971
Note: Número d'acord de subvenció MINECO/MDM2015-0552
Rights: Tots els drets reservats
Language: Anglès.
Document: article ; recerca ; publishedVersion
Subject: Adaptation ; Cross-cultural research ; Hunter-gatherers ; Hunting ; Medicinal plants ; Sharing ; Traditional knowledge
Published in: Current anthropology, Vol. 57 issue 6 (Dec. 2016) , p. 761-784, ISSN 0011-3204

PMID: 28104924


24 p, 656.6 KB

The record appears in these collections:
Research literature > UAB research groups literature > Research Centres and Groups (scientific output) > Experimental sciences > Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA)
Articles > Research articles
Articles > Published articles

 Record created 2018-03-06, last modified 2019-10-03



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