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The Application of Ecological Theory to Human Behavior: Niche, Diversity and Optimal Foraging

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Begossi, Alpina
Conference: Seventh International Conference of the Society for Human Ecology
Location: Michigan State University
Conf. Date: April 21-24, 1994
Date: 1994
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/673
Sector: General & Multiple Resources
Subject(s): human ecology
hunters and gatherers
Abstract: "General ecological models have been useful to analyze the behavior and use of natural resources by human populations. The niche concept, described as the range of conditions in which a population lives, is useful to understand the degree of resource use by human communities. Seasonal changes in the consumption of natural resources may be detected using niche theory. Diversity indices, such as the Simpson index, are a tool to evaluate the intensity of resource use, in temporal and spatial terms. Optimal foraging theory deals with the search and choice of food. It is useful to analyze the choice of animals consumed by people including the cost(search and handling times) and benefit (calories, money) of a decision. Central place foraging is a special case of optimal foraging and may be applied to the behavior of hunters and fishers. This study is based on research carried out in Brazilian fishing communities, called caicaras, located in Atlantic Forest areas. Research includes diversity of animals and plants used and fishing strategies, especially related to the time spent in fishing grounds or patches."

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