Monique Borgerhoff Mulder's research while affiliated with Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and other places

Publications (150)

Article
We use a series of conservation‐related research projects on the island of Pemba, Tanzania to reflect on the broad significance of Beier and colleagues' recommendations for linking conservation science with practical conservation outcomes. We demonstrate that implementation of just some of their suggestions can advance coproduction of actionable sc...
Preprint
Childhood is a period of life unique to humans. Childhood may have evolved through the need to acquire knowledge and subsistence skills. In an attempt to evaluate the importance of learning for the evolution of childhood, previous research examined the increase with age of returns to foraging across various resources. Any increase could be due to i...
Article
Humans form and maintain friendships across long distances, which can provide access to non-local resources and support against large shocks that affect the entire local community. However, there may be a greater risk of defection in long-distance friendships, as monitoring for defection is more difficult at greater distances; accordingly, help bet...
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Full-text available
Humans live in diverse, complex niches where survival and reproduction are conditional on the acquisition of knowledge. Humans also have long childhoods, spending more than a decade before they become net producers. Whether the time needed to learn has been a selective force in the evolution of long human childhood is unclear, because there is litt...
Preprint
Humans form and maintain friendships across long distances, which can provide access to non-local resources and support against large shocks that affect the entire local community. However, there may be a greater risk of free-riding in long-distance friendships, as monitoring for defection is more difficult at greater distances; accordingly, help b...
Article
Does resource extraction during experimental economic games reflect resource use and behavior in other contexts? This question about external validity is central to determining the inferences that can be drawn from experimental evidence to broader sets of circumstances. Building on previous studies of external validity, which often raise concerns a...
Article
This paper offers a systematic approach to quantifying the socio-economic role of forests for 'forest-dependent' communities. Focusing on the island of Pemba (Zanzibar, Tanzania), we investigate how forest income contributes to livelihood portfolios, local inequality, and households' insurance against shocks. We also examine how forest income is af...
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Critiques of parachute science argue for closer collaborations among local and international scientists. Here, building on such a collaboration, we highlight further challenges when outsiders, typically working through international nongovernmental organizations, fail to respect both the governance framework within which they are working and the re...
Preprint
Humans live in diverse, complex niches where survival and reproduction are conditional on the acquisition of knowledge. Humans also have long childhoods, spending more than a decade before they become net producers. Whether the time needed to learn has been a selective force in the evolution of long human childhood is unclear, because there is litt...
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Full-text available
The Reduced Emissions in Deforestation and Degradation (REDD+) initiative uses payments for ecosystem services as incentives for developing countries to manage and protect their forests. REDD+ initiatives also prioritize social (and environmental) co-benefits aimed at improving the livelihoods of communities that are dependent on forests. Despite t...
Preprint
This paper offers a systematic approach to quantifying the socio-economic role of forests for 'forest-dependent' communities. Focusing on the island of Pemba (Zanzibar, Tanzania), we investigate how forest income contributes to livelihood portfolios, local inequality, and households' insurance against shocks. We also examine how forest income is af...
Article
Phylogenetic analyses increasingly take centre-stage in our understanding of the processes shaping patterns of cultural diversity and cultural evolution over time. Just as biologists explain the origins and maintenance of trait differences among organisms using phylogenetic methods, so anthropologists studying cultural macroevolutionary processes u...
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What happens when conservation interventions ostensibly fail? We outline a REDD+ intervention on Zanzibar, Tanzania which is adapting to a failure to implement carbon compensation payments and to the increased global price of cloves. Using a mix of quantitative and qualitative methods we provide preliminary evidence that well‐managed shehia (wards)...
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Explaining why humans cooperate in anonymous contexts is a major goal of human behavioral ecology, cultural evolution, and related fields. What predicts cooperation in anonymous contexts is inconsistent across populations, levels of analysis, and games. For instance, market integration is a key predictor across ethnolinguistic groups but has incons...
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Inequality or skew in reproductive success (RS) is common across many animal species and is of long-standing interest to the study of social evolution. However, the measurement of inequality in RS in natural populations has been challenging because existing quantitative measures are highly sensitive to variation in group/sample size, mean RS, and a...
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The intensifying pace of research based on cross-cultural studies in the social sciences necessitates a discussion of the unique challenges of multi-sited research. Given an increasing demand for social scientists to expand their data collection beyond WEIRD (Western, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic) populations, there is an urgent ne...
Preprint
Phylogenetic analyses increasingly take centre-stage in our understanding of the processes shaping patterns of cultural diversity, and cultural evolution over time. Just as biologists explain the origins and maintenance of trait differences among organisms using phylogenetic methods, so anthropologists studying cultural macroevolutionary processes...
Preprint
Full-text available
The intensifying pace of research based on cross-cultural studies in the social sciences necessitates a discussion of the unique challenges of multi-sited research. Given an increasing demand for social scientists to expand their data collection beyond WEIRD (western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic) populations, there is an urgent n...
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Full-text available
The coconut crab Birgus latro , the largest terrestrial decapod, is under threat in most parts of its geographical range. Its life cycle involves two biomes (restricted terrestrial habitats near the coast, and salt water currents of the tropical Indian and Pacific Oceans). Its dependence on coastal habitat means it is highly vulnerable to the habit...
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Conservation scientists continue to debate the strengths and weaknesses of REDD+ as an instrument to slow greenhouse gas emissions in the developing world. We propose that general positions on this debate are less helpful than drawing lessons from specific investigations into the features of individual projects that make them successful or not. Her...
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African lions are a significant threat to pastoralists, triggering both retaliatory and nonretaliatory killings that represent a high-profile example of human–wildlife conflict. In the present article, we report on a grassroots campaign to reduce such conflict by shifting agropastoralists’ attitudes toward lion killing and the central role of bylaw...
Article
Female-biased kinship (FBK) arises in numerous species and in diverse human cultures, suggesting deep evolutionary roots to female-oriented social structures. The significance of FBK has been debated for centuries in human studies, where it has often been described as difficult to explain. At the same time, studies of FBK in non-human animals point...
Article
Persistent interest lies in gender inequality, especially with regard to the favouring of sons over daughters. Economists are concerned with how privilege is transmitted across generations, and anthropologists have long studied sex-biased inheritance norms. There has, however, been no focused cross-cultural investigation of how parent–offspring cor...
Article
Human marriage systems, characterized by long-term partnerships and extended windows of parental care, differ from the mating systems of pulsed or seasonally breeding non-human animals in which Bateman's principles were originally tested. These features, paradigmatic of but not unique to humans, complicate the accurate measurement of mating success...
Article
Monique Borgerhoff Mulder welcomes a study on Darwinian solutions to social issues. Monique Borgerhoff Mulder welcomes a study on Darwinian solutions to social issues.
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Monogamy appears to have become the predominant human mating system with the emergence of highly unequal agricultural populations that replaced relatively egalitarian horticultural populations, challenging the conventional idea-based on the polygyny threshold model-that polygyny should be positively associated with wealth inequality. To address thi...
Article
Internal or within-state migration is common in Africa and elsewhere and has environmental and social consequences that are often poorly understood. We conducted a national-scale study tracking the movements of agropastoralists in Tanzania and documented the extent of associated environmental changes. The data were drawn from interviews with govern...
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Objectives: The importance of fathers in ensuring child health in rural developing populations is questioned by anthropologists and population health scientists. Existing literature focuses on paternal death and child mortality. A relative lack of studies consider alternative forms of father absence and/or more subtle health outcomes. Here we dete...
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We present formal evolutionary models for the origins and persistence of the practice of Female Genital Modification (FGMo). We then test the implications of these models using normative cross-cultural data on FGMo in Africa and Bayesian phylogenetic methods that explicitly model adaptive evolution. Empirical evidence provides some support for the...
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The idea that trade-offs between offspring quantity and quality shape reproductive behaviour has long been central to economic perspectives on fertility. It also has a parallel and richer theoretical foundation in evolutionary ecology. We review the application of the quantity-quality trade-off concept to human reproduction, emphasizing distinction...
Article
Evolutionary ecological models of human fertility predict that (1) parents will bias investment toward the sex with the highest fitness prospects in a particular socio-ecological context; (2) fertility is subject to quantity-quality trade-offs; and (3) fertility decisions will be sensitive to both predictable and stochastic mortality risk and the r...
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Leadership is an active area of research in both the biological and social sciences. This review provides a transdisciplinary synthesis of biological and social-science views of leadership from an evolutionary perspective, and examines patterns of leadership in a set of small-scale human and non-human mammalian societies. We review empirical and th...
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Evolutionary and economic models of the demographic transition argue that economic development incentivizes low-fertility, high-investment parental strategies, and that such strategies emerge first in relatively wealthy families within populations undergoing ‘modernization’. However, most research focuses on fertility reduction rather than shifting...
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Significance Polygynous marriage is commonly regarded as a harmful cultural practice, detrimental to women and children at the individual and group level. We present counterevidence that polygyny is often positively associated with food security and child health within communities and that, although polygyny and health are negatively associated at...
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Conservation strategies to protect biodiversity and support household livelihoods face numerous challenges. Across the tropics, efforts focus on balancing trade-offs in local communities near the borders of protected areas. Devolving rights and control over certain resources to communities is increasingly considered necessary, but decades of attemp...
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Characterizations of coy females and ardent males are rooted in models of sexual selection that are increasingly outdated. Evolutionary feedbacks can strongly influence the sex roles and subsequent patterns of sex differentiated investment in mating effort, with a key component being the adult sex ratio (ASR). Using data from eight Makushi communit...
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The Maasai of northern Tanzania, a semi-nomadic ethnic group predominantly reliant on pastoralism, face a number of challenges anticipated to have negative impacts on child health, including marginalisation, vulnerabilities to drought, substandard service provision and on-going land grabbing conflicts. Yet, stemming from a lack of appropriate natio...
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A surplus of men leads to violence, right? It depends on how you look at it, say anthropologists Ryan Schacht, Kristin Rauch and Monique Borgerhoff Mulder
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The incidence of HIV infection in rural African youth remains high despite widespread knowledge of the disease within the region and increasing funds allocated to programs aimed at its prevention and treatment. This suggests that program efficacy requires a more nuanced understanding of the profiles of the most at-risk individuals. To evaluate the...
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There is a strong intuitive expectation in both popular lore and conventional evolutionary thinking that more males lead to more violence. Here, we untangle the logic behind this widely held notion with a specific focus on humans. We first review the relation between the intensity of sexual selection in human populations and the adult sex ratio (AS...
Article
A recent discussion debates the extent of human in-migration around protected areas (PAs) in the tropics. One proposed argument is that rural migrants move to bordering areas to access conservation outreach benefits. A counter proposal maintains that PAs have largely negative effects on local populations and that outreach initiatives even if succes...
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With the yearly exodus from labs and lecture theatres imminent, Nature's regular reviewers and editors share some tempting holiday reads.
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Background Community-based conservation (CBC) promotes the idea that long-term conservation success requires engaging with, and providing benefits for local communities. Though widespread, CBC projects are not always successful or free of controversy. With criticisms on all sides of the conservation debates, it is critical to have a better understa...
Article
Community-based conservation (CBC) promotes the idea that conservation success requires engaging with, and providing benefits for, local communities. However, CBC projects are neither consistently successful nor free of controversy. Innovative recent studies evaluating the factors associated with success and failure typically examine only a single...
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Bushmeat consumption and trade are major problems for wildlife conservation in East Africa. To evaluate recognized drivers of bushmeat consumption, we used structured interviews of 435 households in 11 villages within an ethnically diverse division in rural western Tanzania; the study included both indigenous people and an immigrant population that...
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Consumption of bushmeat is a problem around many protected areas, but successful mitigation programs are proving difficult to design, in part because anthropogenic pressures are often treated as uniform. In Eastern Africa, where bushmeat consumption has become a major problem, most studies focus on threats emerging from a single site or single ethn...
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What are the driving forces of cultural macroevolution, the evolution of cultural traits that characterize societies or populations? This question has engaged anthropologists for more than a century, with little consensus regarding the answer. We develop and fit autologistic models, built upon both spatial and linguistic neighbor graphs, for 44 cul...
Article
Rates of lightning mortality in communities on the western shore of Lake Malawi are higher than any other reported rate in the world: 419 strike victims per million people per annum and 84 deaths per million per annum. To document the background to this phenomenon, we conducted comprehensive household interviews with surviving victims and witnesses...
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Livingstone's second mission site on the shore of Lake Malawi suffers very high rates of consequential lightning strikes. Comprehensive interviewing of victims and their relatives in seven Traditional Authorities in Nkhata Bay District, Malawi revealed that the annual rate of consequential strikes was 419/million, more than six times higher than th...
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Human behavioural ecology emerged in the mid-1970s as a result of applying the theory of evolution by natural selection to the study of human behaviour. Using explicit models to derive hypotheses that are tested with quantitative data primarily drawn from traditional human communities, it offers a natural science of sociocultural diversity. Recent...
Article
Studying fitness consequences of variable behavioural, physiological and cognitive traits in contemporary populations constitutes the specific contribution of human behavioural ecology to the study of human diversity. Yet, despite 30 years of evolutionary anthropological interest in the determinants of fitness, there exist few principled investigat...
Article
Cross-cultural anthropologists have increasingly used phylogenetic methods to study cultural variation. Because cultural behaviours can be transmitted horizontally among socially defined groups, however, it is important to assess whether phylogeny-based methods--which were developed to study vertically transmitted traits among biological taxa--are...
Conference Paper
Background: The Whole Village Project (WVP) in Tanzania is designed to assess the longitudinal impact of a variety of health, agriculture and economic development assistance projects. In this presentation we present baseline data from 15 villages in northern Tanzania collected in 2009-2010. Methods: The WVP uses a longitudinal study design that com...
Conference Paper
Background: Creating a rigorous program evaluation to assess the impact of health promotion interventions is often expensive and beyond the scope of most program implementers. The Whole Village Project (WVP) in Tanzania is designed to assess the longitudinal impact of a variety of health, agriculture and economic development assistance projects. Me...