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COMPLEX TIME: Adaptation, Aging, & Arrow of Time

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Population and the Environment: Analytical Demography and Applied Population Ethics/Co-evolution of population and environment - environment, food supply & demography

From Complex Time

October 16, 2018
1:45 pm - 2:30 pm


Charlotte Lee (Duke Univ.)


Due to tight coupling between human population dynamics and their local environments, preindustrial societies—particularly ones on islands--are useful for studying population-environment interaction.  In Hawai’i, rapid human population growth and sophisticated social stratification took place before European contact, in the context of sometimes extreme environmental variability.  These phenomena define questions, inform the structure of quantitative models, and guide the development of further hypotheses regarding how environment and population interact. I describe how agroecological and environment-dependent demographic models can be developed and integrated to probe the environment-population dynamics of a dryland field system, and to investigate the consequences and possible causes of social complexity. Results suggest that dynamic incorporation of social change could be an important component of studying population-environment interactions.    

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Post-meeting Reflection

Charlotte Lee (Duke Univ.) Link to the source page

Highlights: Very many of the issues with which I've wrestled in my own thinking--from big-picture and philosophical questions to methodological ones at various levels of detail--are being studied and advanced by others at this meeting. There have been a few ways of measuring things, or of thinking about them at all, which were completely new and cool to me. And of course several questions and topics about which I personally haven't thought much, but are clearly important to population and environment

Impact on my own research: I've come to a renewed awareness of the value and difficulty of interdisciplinary integration. For example, there are many places in my research where social organization plays some role in the dynamics of food supply and population change, and sharing this here has reminded me of how much can be important and how much there is to find out.

Reference Material

- Recommended for this course (1 & 2):

1) Lee, CT, and S Tuljapurkar. 2011. Quantitative, dynamic models to integrate environment, population, and society. Pages 111-133 in Kirch, PV, ed. Roots of Conflict: Soils, Agriculture, and Sociopolitical Complexity in Ancient Hawai'i. School of Advanced Research Press, Santa Fe, New Mexico.

This book chapter summarizes the effort to integrate models for the environment and environment-dependent demography that is the focus of my lecture during the course. It's intended as an introduction to and overview of the dynamic modeling approach--details are there for folks who are interested, but not necessary.

2) Lee, CT, S Tuljapurkar, and P Vitousek. 2006. Risky business: spatial and temporal variation in preindustrial dryland agriculture. Human Ecology 34 (6): 739-763

This paper goes into more detail on the environmental modeling and is optional for that reason, but its introduction does a bit better job than the book chapter of setting up the context and larger questions framing the work.

- Supplementary readings for more detail on other parts of the project (3 - 6):

3) Lee and Tuljapurkar 2008 details food-dependent demographic dynamics when populations are in a phase of long-term exponential growth.

4) Puleston and Tuljpurkar 2008 give details of how demography changes when total land area begins to limit population growth.

5) Lee et al. 2009 examine both growing and space-limited populations with environmental variability.

6) Ladefoged et al. 2008 explains the application of the coupled model to questions about social organization.

Title Author name Source name Year Citation count From Scopus. Refreshed every 5 days. Page views Related file
Population and prehistory I: Food-dependent population growth in constant environments Charlotte T. Lee, Shripad Tuljapurkar Theoretical Population Biology 2008 48 7
Risky business: Temporal and spatial variation in preindustrial dryland agriculture Charlotte T. Lee, Shripad Tuljapurkar, Peter M. Vitousek Human Ecology 2006 32 3
Modeling life expectancy and surplus production of dynamic pre-contact territories in leeward Kohala, Hawai'i Thegn N. Ladefoged, Charlotte T. Lee, Michael W. Graves Journal of Anthropological Archaeology 2008 31 5
Population and prehistory III: Food-dependent demography in variable environments Charlotte T. Lee, Cedric O. Puleston, Shripad Tuljapurkar Theoretical Population Biology 2009 30 3
Population and prehistory II: Space-limited human populations in constant environments. Puleston, C., Tuljapurkar, S. Theoretical Population Biology 2008 0 7
Quantitative, dynamic models to integrate environment, population, and society Charlotte T Lee Roots of Conflict: Soils, Agriculture, and Sociopolitical Complexity in Ancient Hawai'i (School for Advanced Research Advanced Seminar Series) 2011 0 5