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Fri, Feb

Bound by Nature - Cul­tural Evol­u­tion Has Not Freed Hunter-Gather­ers from En­vir­on­men­tal For­cing

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Cultural evolution has made humans enormously potent ecosystem engineers and has enabled us to survive and flourish under a variety environmental conditions.

Cultural evolution has made humans enormously potent ecosystem engineers and has enabled us to survive and flourish under a variety environmental conditions.

Even hunter-gatherers, who obtain their food from wild plant and animal resources using seemingly simple technologies, have been able to extract energy in harsh arctic and desert conditions and compile vast knowledge on medical plants to fight against pathogens in the tropics. Because of culture, humans are often considered to be divorced from the environment and not under the same ecological forcing as other species.

Hunter-gatherer pop­u­la­tion dens­ity is con­strained by en­vir­on­men­tal con­di­tions

However, in a new paper published in Proceedings of the National of Sciences USA (PNAS)scientists from the University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science, show that key environmental parameters, namely climate-related primary productivity, biodiversity, and pathogen stress have strong influence on the global pattern of population densities of ethnographically documented hunter-gatherers.

Read more at University of Helsinki

Image: Blue, red, and gray arrows indicate positive, negative and statistically insignificant effect of a variable. Thickness of an arrow indicate the strength of the effect of a variable. Net primary productivity has also indirect effects on population density mediated by biodiversity and pathogens. (Credit: Miska Luoto)