Why are population growth rate estimates of past and present hunter-gatherers so different?

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Tallavaara , M & Jorgensen , E K 2021 , ' Why are population growth rate estimates of past and present hunter-gatherers so different? ' , Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Biological Sciences , vol. 376 , no. 1816 , 20190708 . https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2019.0708

Title: Why are population growth rate estimates of past and present hunter-gatherers so different?
Author: Tallavaara, Miikka; Jorgensen, Erlend Kirkeng
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Department of Geosciences and Geography
Date: 2021-01-18
Language: eng
Number of pages: 9
Belongs to series: Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society. Biological Sciences
ISSN: 0962-8436
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10138/324526
Abstract: Hunter-gatherer population growth rate estimates extracted from archaeological proxies and ethnographic data show remarkable differences, as archaeological estimates are orders of magnitude smaller than ethnographic and historical estimates. This could imply that prehistoric hunter-gatherers were demographically different from recent hunter-gatherers. However, we show that the resolution of archaeological human population proxies is not sufficiently high to detect actual population dynamics and growth rates that can be observed in the historical and ethnographic data. We argue that archaeological and ethnographic population growth rates measure different things; therefore, they are not directly comparable. While ethnographic growth rate estimates of hunter-gatherer populations are directly linked to underlying demographic parameters, archaeological estimates track changes in the long-term mean population size, which reflects changes in the environmental productivity that provide the ultimate constraint for forager population growth. We further argue that because of this constraining effect, hunter-gatherer populations cannot exhibit long-term growth independently of increasing environmental productivity. This article is part of the theme issue 'Cross-disciplinary approaches to prehistoric demography'.
Subject: hunter&#8211
gatherers
population growth rates
human population dynamics
archaeological population proxies
forager population paradox
DYNAMICS
MODEL
ECOLOGY
HISTORY
1171 Geosciences
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