Territorial Behavior and Ecology

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

Human territorial behavior encompasses a broad range of variation. While basic territory development may begin simply by excluding others through the habitual or persistent use of the same location, such behaviors can extend to the active defense of resource patches and the emergence of stable boundaries. Anthropologists have long relied on ecological models to help explain this variation, and new approaches from behavioral ecology are beginning to expand our understanding of territorial behavior, its causes, and its effects. Here we assemble researchers focused on explaining variation in territorial behavior across Western North America through ethnographic and archaeological case studies. Papers in this session will offer new insights on territorial behavior, providing a foundation for future work on the subject.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-10 of 10)

  • Documents (10)

  • Bedrock Mortars as an Indicator of Territorial Behavior in Late Holocene California (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Nathan Stevens. Adrian Whitaker. Jeffrey Rosenthal.

    Bedrock mortars were an integral part of intensive acorn economies in Native California and are a prominent feature of the Late Holocene archaeological record. Construction of these milling features also indicates a strong investment in particular locations on the landscape. Ethnographic evidence suggests the importance of local acorn crops led to ownership and defense of property and resource rights in many areas. Human Behavioral Ecology offers a framework for examining the conditions that may...

  • Despotism and Territorial Behavior: Low Population Density Foragers and Territorial Maintenance (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only David Harvey.

    Habitat distribution theory has been applied to a variety of archaeological research programs. The success of the framework has been largely demonstrated through the use of the ideal free distribution (IFD) model to elucidate the nature of colonization and settlement of insular environments. However, territorial maintenance, especially in the face of resource competition, may require the occupation of less suitable habitats as a means of controlling access to resources and land. This paper...

  • Diversity and Development of Property Rights and Money in the Southern Pacific Northwest Coast (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Shannon Tushingham. Robert Bettinger.

    At contact, property rights systems in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon were complex and diverse, and applied to a wide range of sacred places and items as well as use rights to foods and materials associated with a highly productive (yet very patchy) resource base. Use rights and possession extended from property that was commonly owned (e.g., game, line fishing locations) to individually owned property (e.g., productive salmon weir locations and acorn groves, dance rights,...

  • Ecology, Territoriality, and the Emergence of Acorn and Maize Economies in Western North America (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Brian Codding. Erick Robinson. Nathan Stevens. Terry Jones. Robert Kelly.

    Ethnographic populations throughout Western North American sometimes relied on strategies and institutions to protect resources, patches, and territories for exclusive use. But explaining why and identifying when these exclusionary practices emerged (and dissolved) in the past remains difficult. Based on predictions from ecological and evolutionary theory, individuals should only engage in territorial behavior when the benefits of exclusive use, such as subsistence gains, are worth the costs of...

  • The Effect of Property Rights on Low-Level Food Production (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jacob Freeman.

    A basic premise of economics is that more secure property rights reduce conflict and provide an incentive for individuals to invest capital to increase productivity. This premise underlies recent theories developed by archaeologists that food production and more secure property rights, by necessity, co-evolve. The argument goes like this: Dense and predicable resources provide an incentive for more secure property rights and more secure property rights provide an incentive for individuals to...

  • The Role of Portable Rock Art during the Northern California Archaic Period (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Kelly McGuire. William Hildebrandt.

    One of the largest and oldest portable rock art assemblages identified in North America has been documented in the upper reaches of the Sacramento River in Northern California. This fluorescence of stylistic activity, commencing as early as 6,000 years ago, appears to be a symbolic manifestation of group identity and a harbinger of the rise of social and territorial complexity in this region. In this paper we explore the linguistic, social, and ecological variables that may have given rise to...

  • Social Boundaries and The Cultural Ecology of Artiodactyl Hunting in Prehistoric Central California (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Adrian Whitaker. Jeffrey Rosenthal.

    We use a model developed using Geographical Information Systems software to examine the extent to which the suitability of habitat surrounding archaeological sites in Central California affected hunting decisions for three artiodactyl taxa: elk (Cervus elaphus), deer (Odocoileus hemionus), and pronghorn (Antilocapra americana). Model findings are compared to a database of 100 archaeofaunal assemblages from the same area. We find that the model predicts the presence and relative abundance of elk...

  • Territoriality among Coastal Villages on California’s Northern Channel Islands (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christopher Jazwa. Douglas Kennett. Bruce Winterhalder.

    The location of archaeological settlement sites is influenced not only by the distribution of ecological resources, but also cultural factors including conflict between neighboring populations. The ideal free distribution is a human behavioral ecology model that has been used to understand the establishment and persistence of settlement sites in the archaeological record. On California’s northern Channel Islands, the number and location of settlement sites expands over time until the Medieval...

  • Territoriality, Intertribal Boundaries, and Large Game Exploitation: Empirical Evaluation of a Spatial Bioeconomic Model of Conflict in the Western U.S. (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Frank Bayham. Kasey Cole.

    Being a high-ranking prey item, large game are often desired for their economic and prestige values, both of which may be converted to an individual’s status. As such, big game can serve as a potential axis for competition between linguistic or ethnically distinct groups particularly under conditions of population stress leading to resource depression. This dynamic has been modeled using an evolutionary ecological approach that combines an amalgam of standard foraging models with the added cost...

  • When to defend? Optimal Territoriality across the Numic Homeland (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Ashley Parker. Christopher Parker. Brian Codding.

    Research exploring the complex human decisions that lead to territoriality have largely focused on defensibility. Here we explore territoriality using an ecological and evolutionary model from behavioral ecology: the marginal value theorem (MVT). Based on the principal of diminishing returns, the MVT predicts that the utility of a plot of land will decrease with each additional plot, therefore people should defend an area only at a threshold when it becomes energetically beneficial within the...