Humans frequently form short-lived cooperative groups to accomplish subsistence and economic tasks. We explore the ecological and cultural factors behind ephemeral work-group formation in two disparate cultural contexts: groups foraging for wild honey in present day South India and groups prospecting for silver ore in the Elk Mountain Mining District of Colorado in the late 19th century. Contrary to traditional economic foraging predictions, we find little evidence that per capita yields are the most important factor in determining size and composition of ephemeral work groups. We explore factors in each of these cultures that may be of importance for group formation such as kinship, reputation, and pleasure. Models that only incorporate economic parameters will make poor predictions of how humans interact with their environments.
Propaganda, public information, and prospecting: explaining the irrational exuberance of central place foragers during a late nineteenth century Colorado silver rush. —
Leslie J. Savage Library at Western College. Gunnison Colorado: Elk Mountain Bonanza (July 1880–March 1881).
Foraging behavior of Brazilian riverine and coastal fishers: how much is explained by the optimal foraging theory? —
The application of optimal foraging theory to the analysis of hunter-gatherer group size. — In:
Hunter gatherer foraging strategies (
WinterhalderB.SmithE.A. eds). University of Chicago PressChicago, IL p.
Gunnison and San Juan. A late and reliable description of the wonderful gold and silver belts and iron and coal fields of that newest and best land for prospector and capitalist southwestern Colorado… as presented in a series of letters written to the “New York world” by its special correspondent “R. E. S.” Also containing a valuable appendix on mining laws. — The New WestOmaha, NE.