Resource stress and subsistence diversification across societies

Nature Sustainability Vol/Iss. 3 Springer Published In Pages: 737-745
By Ember, Carol R. , Ringen, Erik J. , Dunnington, Jack , Pitek, Emily


Using a cross-cultural sample of 91 societies, this paper draws on ecological theory to test if unpredictable environments will favor subsistence diversification. The general hypothesis is that societies with high climate unpredictability and resource stress would exhibit more subsistence diversity than societies in more stable climates. The authors examined four environmental and resource stress variables while controlling for temperature variance, subsistence activity, and phylogeny. Support was found for 2 of the 4 variables--chronic scarcity and environmental instability. In the discussion they suggest that more commonly observed events (e.g. annual hunger and climate unpredictability) may give people more motivation to change subsistence than rarer events (e.g. natural hazards and famine).

Documents and Hypotheses Filed By:danielle.russell