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Networks of Food Sharing Reveal the Functional Significance of Multilevel Sociality in Two Hunter-Gatherer Groups.

Published version
Peer-reviewed

Repository DOI


Type

Article

Change log

Authors

Thompson, James 
Smith, Daniel 
Salali, Gul Deniz 

Abstract

Like many other mammalian and primate societies [1-4], humans are said to live in multilevel social groups, with individuals situated in a series of hierarchically structured sub-groups [5, 6]. Although this multilevel social organization has been described among contemporary hunter-gatherers [5], questions remain as to the benefits that individuals derive from living in such groups. Here, we show that food sharing among two populations of contemporary hunter-gatherers-the Palanan Agta (Philippines) and Mbendjele BaYaka (Republic of Congo)-reveals similar multilevel social structures, with individuals situated in households, within sharing clusters of 3-4 households, within the wider residential camps, which vary in size. We suggest that these groupings serve to facilitate inter-sexual provisioning, kin provisioning, and risk reduction reciprocity, three levels of cooperation argued to be fundamental in human societies [7, 8]. Humans have a suite of derived life history characteristics including a long childhood and short inter-birth intervals that make offspring energetically demanding [9] and have moved to a dietary niche that often involves the exploitation of difficult to acquire foods with highly variable return rates [10-12]. This means that human foragers face both day-to-day and more long-term energetic deficits that conspire to make humans energetically interdependent. We suggest that a multilevel social organization allows individuals access to both the food sharing partners required to buffer themselves against energetic shortfalls and the cooperative partners required for skill-based tasks such as cooperative foraging.

Description

Keywords

Congo, Cooperative Behavior, Female, Food, Humans, Male, Philippines

Journal Title

Curr Biol

Conference Name

Journal ISSN

0960-9822
1879-0445

Volume Title

26

Publisher

Elsevier BV