The 84th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2015)

Determinants of reproductive success in Batek hunter-gatherers in Peninsular Malaysia


1Biology, Dartmouth College, 2Department of Anthropology and Sociology, Université Lumière Lyon 2, 3Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Chiba University, 4Anthropology, Dartmouth College

March 27, 2015 1:30, Grand Ballroom A/B Add to calendar

Reproductive success is the fundamental currency of evolution and reflects the contribution of social, behavioral, physiological, and ecological factors. In humans, a correlation between reproductive success and hunting ability has been demonstrated in several hunting and gathering populations, but alternative predictors of reproductive success such as social metrics or non-hunting foraging success have not been examined. In addition, the long lifespan of humans makes it difficult to measure lifetime reproductive success and previous studies have instead focused on the determinants of age-corrected reproductive success. In this study we used a historical economic dataset from the 1970’s in combination with long-term genealogical data to examine the determinants of lifetime reproductive success in Batek hunter-gatherers in Peninsular Malaysia. We examined the alternative hypotheses that hunting success, gathering success, and/or social attributes derived from cooperative foraging networks predict reproductive success. We present an information-theoretic analysis to test these alternative hypotheses and discuss the implications of investigating lifetime reproductive success rather than age-corrected reproductive success. Our results demonstrate the potential for using quantitative attributes from social network analysis to address outstanding questions in human behavioral ecology and attest to the critical advantages of collecting longitudinal data in hunter-gatherer studies.

We thank the Claire Garber Goodman Fund and the National Geographic Young Explorers Program for funding this research.