Field Populations

University of California at Santa Barbara

Director: Professor Michael Gurven, PhD

The Evolutionary Anthropology and Biodemography Research Group has conducted field research among the following:


Tsimané The Tsimané are an indigenous population of 15,000 forager-horticulturalists in the Bolivian Amazon. Tsimané subsistence relies on small-scale horticulture, hunting, fishing, foraging, with more acculturated villages becoming increasingly integrated into the regional market economy.


Mosetén: The Mosetén of lowland Bolivia share the same language family as the Tsimané, and traditionally practiced similar subsistence strategies, but were missionized by Jesuits several centuries ago. The Mosetén are fluent in Spanish and regularly participate in market integration and cash cropping.


Shuar: The Shuar are Amazonian forager-horticulturalists living in the Andean foothills of Ecuador. They traditionally practiced similar subsistence strategies to the Tsimané and Mosetén, but have had greater exposure to Ecuadorian nationals (Colonos) and thus have experienced more intense levels of market integration.


Aché: Up until the 1970’s the Aché of Eastern Paraguay were full-time “egalitarian” hunter-gatherers relying on hunting, gathering honey, and foraging for palm starch. Traditionally the Aché lived in small mobile bands, but most Ache currently live in semi-permanent reservations and practice small-scale horticulture.


Sanöma: The Sanöma forager-horticulturalists (population ~1,500) are an offshoot of the Yanomami who live in the neo-tropical Venezuelan forests of the Caura and Ventuan River basin.


Batek:Tropical forest hunter-gatherers of Peninsular Malaysia (~1,500), living in Taman Negara National Park. Still relatively nomadic, and egalitarian, living in small camps of 15-50 people.

tom and batek Batek from Scott 2007


Solomon Islands: Indigenous groups in the Roviania and Vonavona Lagoon areas of the Western Solomon Islands traditionally relied on maritime fishing and harvesting strategies. The advent of protected marine conservation areas and other changes in the way these aquatic environments are managed have begun to modify the traditional lifeway’s of Solomon Islanders.