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Optimal Foraging Theory - OFT: Background, Problems and Possibilities
Gotland University, School of Culture, Energy and Environment. (The Pioneer Settlements of Gotland - Early Holocene Maritime Relations in the Baltic Sea Area)
2012 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesisAlternative title
Optimal Foraging Theory - OFT : bakgrund, problem och möjligheter (Swedish)
Abstract [en]

Optimal Foraging Theory (OFT) has its origin in processualistic ideas in 1960s with traces back to the dawn of the archaeological science in the 19th century. The OFT model is based on the construction of an individual’s food item selection understood as an evolutionary construct that maximizes the net energy gained per unit feeding time. The most common variants are diet patch choice, diet breadth/prey choice models and Marginal Value Theorem (MVT). The theory introduced experimental studies combined with mathematically data analyses and computer simulations. The results visualized in the experimental diagrammed curve are possible to compare with the archaeological records. What is “optimal” is an empirical question not possible to know but still useful as a benchmark for measuring culture. The theory is common in USA but still not in Europe. OFT seems to be useful in hunter-gatherer research looking at human decisions, energy flow, depression of resources and extinction. This literature review concludes that the prey-choice/diet-breadth model seems to be useful for hunter-gatherer research on Gotland focusing on possible causes of the hiatus in archaeological records between 5000-4500 BC.

Abstract [sv]

Optimal Foraging Theory (OFT) har sitt ursprung i de processualistiska ideérna under 1960-talet med spår tillbaka till arkeologins början som vetenskap under 1800-talet. OFT modellen baseras på konstruktionen av en individs födoämnesval som förstås som en evolutionär konstruktion som maximerar nettoenergiintaget per tidsenhet som gått åt för försörjningen. De vanligaste varianterna är patch-choice, diet breadth/prey choice modellerna och Marginal Value Theorem (MVT). Experimentella studier genomförs och data bearbetas matematiskt och visar datorsimulerade kurvdiagram möjliga att jämföra med arkeologiska källmaterial. Vad som är ”optimalt” är en empirisk fråga omöjlig att veta men användbar ändå som en slag referens för att mäta kultur. Teorin är vanlig i USA men ännu inte i Europa. OFT förefaller användbar inom forskning av jägare-samlare om man fokuserar på beslutsfattande, energiflöde, depression av resurser och utrotning av arter. Slutsatsen i denna litteraturöversikt är att prey choice/diet breadth modellen tycks vara användbar för gotländsk jägare-samlare-forskning som fokuserar på möjliga orsaker till de arkeologiska fyndens hiatus mellan 5000-4500 BC.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. , 49 p.
Keyword [en]
Darwinism, diet-breadth, evolutionary ecology, Marginal Value Theorem, MVT, Optimal Foraging Theory, OFT, patch choice, prey choice, Gotland
National Category
Archaeology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:hgo:diva-1488OAI: oai:DiVA.org:hgo-1488DiVA: diva2:538581
Subject / course
Archaeology
Presentation
2012-04-24, Distansutbildning, HGO, Cramérgatan 3, 621 67 Visby, 22:45 (Swedish)
Uppsok
Humanities, Theology
Supervisors
Examiners
Available from: 2012-06-30 Created: 2012-06-27 Last updated: 2013-07-01Bibliographically approved

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