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Appendix C - Human Behavioral Ecology

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    Learning Objectives

    • Define human behavioral ecology.
    • Describe the types of behaviors that human behavioral ecologists study.
    • Explain why humans share food.
    • Identify how human behavioral ecology contributes to contemporary world issues.

    On December 26, 2004, an earthquake in the Indian Ocean resulted in a tsunami that killed over 200,000 people in at least a dozen different countries (Figure C.1; Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica 2018). In the aftermath, 30% of households in the United States donated an estimated $2.78 billion to help the victims (Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University 2008). At the same time, despite being one of the wealthiest countries in the world, the United States has over a million children who experience homelessness each year (National Center for Homeless Education 2017). Why is it that sometimes humans work together to help those in need, but at other times, humans struggle to solve basic problems? The field of Human Behavioral Ecology seeks to understand this and many other questions to learn why humans behave the way they do. Human Behavioral Ecology is the field of anthropology that explores how evolutionary history and ecological factors combine to influence human behavior.

    Man walking among destruction resulting from tsunami.
    Figure C.1: Aftermath of the 2004 Asian Tsunami in Sri Lanka. Credit: Pictures from bus 13 by Sarvodaya Shramadana is under a CC BY 2.0 License.

    Thumbnail: A Lamalera whale-spearer jumps from a boat, spearing a whale in Lembata Island, East Nusa Tenggara Province. Credit: Lamafa (spearer) jumping from peledang boat to a whale by Bambang Budi Utomo is in the public domain in Indonesia.

    This chapter is a revision from “Appendix C: Human Behavioral Ecology” by Kristin Snopkowski. In Explorations: An Open Invitation to Biological Anthropology, first edition, edited by Beth Shook, Katie Nelson, Kelsie Aguilera, and Lara Braff, which is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.

    This page titled Appendix C - Human Behavioral Ecology is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Kristin Snopkowski (Society for Anthropology in Community Colleges) via source content that was edited to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.