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Demography, Environment, and Subsistence Stress
ByJeffrey S. Dean
Pages 32

The conceptual model identifies low- and high-frequency fluctuations in demography and the environment as important independent variables and behavior as the dependent variable in most adaptive situations. Within the context of the adaptation model, the population and environmental reconstructions summarized can be used to identify instances of regional resource stress serious enough to have triggered large-scale adaptive behavioral change. This chapter presents an attempt to specify aspects of a general framework for conceptualizing and analyzing the effects of subsistence stress and economic uncertainty on societies with subsistence-level agricultural economies. The Santa Fe Institute workshop advanced several concepts of great potential explanatory power in the study of cultural evolution in general and Southwestern prehistory in particular. Several aspects of the Southwestern environment fall into the stable category. The familiar tripartite division of the region into plateau, mountains, and desert is a long-standing feature based on other stable factors such as general climate, elevation, aspect, geology, topography, and vegetation.