Hunter-Gatherer Ecology

AP450 – Spring 2005


Instructor: L. Todd

Lab/Office: GSB 346 (491-5110)



Office Hours (GSB 346/350):

    Weds. 10-11:50 am; Thurs 3:30-5:00 pm
Meeting Time: Wednesday 6-8:50 pm.

Place: Clark C359

    | Introduction | Class Outline | Grading | Texts | Reading/Video Assignments |

    | Lectures/Discussion |

    Saturday, March 10, 2007 08:20


    For most of the human career, we have been hunter-gatherers. It is only in the last 10,000 years that other modes of subsistence have appeared. Understanding of long-term issues of human behavioral change is difficult without a background in the diversity of hunter-gatherer lifeways. The class presents an introduction to the study of interactions between foraging peoples and their physical, climate, and social environment. A focus of the course will be on reviewing the behavioral ecology of recent hunter-gatherers as an approach to begin developing more reliable ways to investigate the behaviors, and to evaluate models of prehistoric hunter-gatherers. The class is designed to allow (require) a good deal of discussion about the assigned readings. Lectures or presentations will usually take up no more that 1/2 of a class period. Most of each period will be devoted to talking about the readings. Each week’s reading assignment will be approximately 150+ pages in length. In addition to the text, there will be a series of additional outside readings as background material that will be helpful for your term paper and discussion.


    The grade for the class will be based on the total number of grade points accumulated during the semester. The grade points will be distributed between four different types of activities: 

    Midterm Exam 60 points
    Written Weekly Summaries 100 points
    In-Class Presentation 10 points
    DE Attendance 10 points
    Discussion/class participation 20 points
    Term Paper 100 points


    300 points

    Exams: There will be one essay exam (a midterm). It will consist of 3-5 essay topics from which you will select and answer 2. The exam will be worth 60 points and the essays will be graded on (1) how well the general themes from the readings and discussions have been integrated into a cohesive essay, and (2) how well the specific facts (names, places, dates, etc.) have been assimilated and used effectively in the answer.

    In-Class Presentation: Each student will be required to prepare and deliver one brief (10 minute) in-class presentations. Presentations will be based on your library research and will take place during Week 5. You will select and summarize ethnographic information about one of the groups shown in Figure 1.1 of The Foraging Spectrum. You must clear your selection with me before you begin.  As part of your in-class presentation, each of you will be required to prepare and distribute a handout for the class with some specific types of information summarized for you group of hunter-gatherers.  These data will be incorporated into this web site and you will be identified as the information compiler for your group. This information will minimally include:

    Discussion/Weekly summaries: Participation in class discussion is required. In order to help you prepare for each week’s discussion, you will be required to turn in a one-page typed summary (total of 1 page) of the key topics in that weeks readings along with 3 (three) questions or topics from the readings that you’d like to discuss. Your are only required to prepare summaries for the materials marked with an asterisk (*). If you miss a class for any reason, the written summary still must be turned in within one week. As noted below, you should also think of this assignment as a way to begin preparation for your term paper Each of you will be required to lead 1-2 week's discussions during the semester.  As weekly discussion leader, you will have primary resposibility for promting and directing the in-class discussion.   Your prepared questions are written summary can be used as the basis for your role as discussion leader.

    Distinguished Ecologist Series (DE attendance): You are required to attend at least one of a series of lectures given by a group of ecologists visiting CSU. To receive credit for attending a lecture, you’ll have to turn in a typed, 1-paragraph summary of the materials covered. A list speakers, lecture topics, and times can be found at the GDPE (Graduate Degree Program in Ecology) page.

    Term Paper: A 10-15-page term paper is required. All aspects of the format of the paper must follow the American Antiquity style guide. A copy of this style guide will be included with the "Other Required Readings" that will be on reserve. The style guide is also available on the Web as a PDF file that you can download. The paper will be required to have three primary components: 1) a review and comparison of the two assigned textbooks, 2) integration of the materials covered in the texts with that covered in the outside readings, and 3) discuss the implications of the materials covered in class and the ethnographic data reviewed during your in-class presentation on the investigation of prehistoric hunter-gatherers paleoecology. Grade points will be assigned to the paper as follows

    Research/Scholarship (literature review) 40 points
    Integration/extension (paleoecology of h-g's) 40 points
    Writing, spelling, grammar, proofreading 15 points
    American Antiquity Format 5 points
    TOTAL..... 100 points

    While it is not exceptionally difficult to get materials on interlibrary loan, it does take time and does not allow you to quickly assess the information. All of you will, therefore, be doing the same term paper, which will be based primarily on the assigned readings (the textbooks and the additional materials) plus the material you research for your ethnographic case study. We will be discussing the texts and the additional readings in class. It will be your responsibility to read and think about all the materials and integrate them into your term paper. You can and should think of each weekly written assignment as a way to organize your thoughts on the materials and perhaps use some of these as rough sketches for the final paper. Although all of the basic materials for your term paper will be in the assigned readings, the A-level term papers will probably have to consult other sources and follow additional leads.

    In preparing the term paper, there are several points to keep in mind. First, you will be doing a good deal of assigned reading this semester and you should incorporate and cite as much of it as possible into your paper. Second, be sure you think about the four components of the paper (research/scholarship, organization/clarity, writing/spelling/proofreading, and format) when you are preparing your manuscript. The following summarizes what I’ll be looking for when I grade your papers, and you should think about them as you prepare the manuscript:

    Required Texts:

    There are four required textbooks. The first three (Krebs and Davies, Kelly, and Gowdy) will be assigned on a weekly basis. The third (Yu) is one that you can read at your own pace to be sure that you complete it in plenty of time to integrate the materials into your midterm exam.



    Richerson, P.J. and R. Boyd (2005).  Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution. University of Chicago Press, Chacago. (ISBN 0-226-71284-2)


    Kelly, Robert L. (1995) The Foraging Spectrum: Diversity in Hunter-Gatherer Lifeways. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C. (ISBN I-56098-466-X).


    Gowdy, John (editor) (1998). Limited Wants, Unlimited Means: A Reader on Hunter-Gatherer Economics and the Environment. Island Press, Washington, D.C. (ISBN 1-55963-555-X).

    Other Required Readings:Each week, in addition to readings in the textbooks, there will be several additional readings. The required readings from non-textbook sources and are included with the Additional Readings Binders that are on reserve These will provide additional material to that covered in the texts. They are available 2 places on campus: 1) GSB350;  2) the Anthropology Workroom (C206 Clark) IF YOU USE THE READING IN C206 YOU MAY NOT USE THE ANTHROPoLOGY COPY MACHINE and must sign the checkout sheet


    We will be viewing weekly videos throughout the semester. You are expected to take notes on the videos and they will be covered on the exams and in discussion. If you miss a video, you can make arrangements with Instructional Services (A71 Clark) to see it on one of the campus televisions. You’ll need to be able to tell them the name of the video you want to watch and these are given in the syllabus.

    Recommended Text; it is recommended that you have access to the following book for review or introduction to basic topics in ecology:

    Begon, Michael, John L. Harper, and Colin R. Townsend (1996) Ecology: Individuals, Populations and Communities. Blackwell Scientific, Cambridge. (ISBN 0-632-03801-2)

    Back to top of page