Event Title

Optimizing Long Run Energy Harvesting Strategies in Central Asian Nomadic Pastoralists

Start Date

8-11-2017 8:30 AM

End Date

8-11-2017 12:30 PM

Description

Optimality models derived from behavioral ecology have been applied with remarkable success toward understanding the behavior of human foragers, including diet breadth, work effort, mobility, and technological investment. Despite the historical importance and modern day resilience of pastoralism – production based on domestic herds – few models rooted in evolutionary theory have been developed to understand the constraints and decision problems inherent to pastoralist subsistence strategies. We present a new behavioral ecological model and operationalize it with recent quantitative data, aiming to derive new insight into adaptation of central Asian nomads to mixed cash-subsistence economies. This evolutionary model characterizes optimal strategies for maximizing long run benefits of herds by balancing tradeoffs affecting rates of animal breeding, slaughter, and market sales at the level of residential groups. We test predictions from the model using data collected through ethnographic fieldwork with nomadic pastoralists in Mongolia and southern Siberia. We emphasize the economics of life history to explain variation in energy harvesting and market participation strategies across residential groups.

Comments

Co-authors on the poster: Paul Hooper Stefani Crabtree Julia Clark

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Nov 8th, 8:30 AM Nov 8th, 12:30 PM

Optimizing Long Run Energy Harvesting Strategies in Central Asian Nomadic Pastoralists

Optimality models derived from behavioral ecology have been applied with remarkable success toward understanding the behavior of human foragers, including diet breadth, work effort, mobility, and technological investment. Despite the historical importance and modern day resilience of pastoralism – production based on domestic herds – few models rooted in evolutionary theory have been developed to understand the constraints and decision problems inherent to pastoralist subsistence strategies. We present a new behavioral ecological model and operationalize it with recent quantitative data, aiming to derive new insight into adaptation of central Asian nomads to mixed cash-subsistence economies. This evolutionary model characterizes optimal strategies for maximizing long run benefits of herds by balancing tradeoffs affecting rates of animal breeding, slaughter, and market sales at the level of residential groups. We test predictions from the model using data collected through ethnographic fieldwork with nomadic pastoralists in Mongolia and southern Siberia. We emphasize the economics of life history to explain variation in energy harvesting and market participation strategies across residential groups.