Although anthropologists have long recognized the importance of mobility to hunter-gatherers, much work remains to be done on the issue of how mobility impacts levels of cultural diversity in central-place foraging populations. Many archaeologists identify signs of increased diversity in culture material and of increased differentiation between regions as indicators of modern human behavior. A better understanding of how mobility affects these variables may provide us with an additional line of evidence for explaining the appearance of archaeological indicators of modernity. This spatially explicit agent-based model, based on Kelly’s (1995) central-place foraging model, was designed to address the following research question: how does length of the effective foraging radius (r_e) affect the effective size of a metapopulation composed of central-place foraging groups? The results show that mobility strategies that emphasize logistical mobility can inhibit intergroup interaction and, in turn, increase the effective population size of a selectively neutral cultural trait within a subdivided population of forager groups. Considered within the larger context of Sewall Wright’s work on the effects of isolation by distance, the findings have interesting implications not only for neutral cultural diversity at the level of the metapopulation but also for cultural differentiation between groups. To the extent that we can identify shifts in hominin mobility strategies in the Paleolithic archaeological record, this model may help us better understand the appearance of modern behavior.
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.comses.net/codebases/5038/releases/1.0.0/