Michael Gurven

Michael Gurven

Contact Phone

(805) 893-2202

Office Location

HSSB 2060


Integrative Anthropological Sciences (behavioral ecology, human biology, biodemography, hunter-gatherers and horticulturalists, life history theory, indigenous health; Bolivia, Paraguay)


PhD, University of New Mexico


Research Interests

Professor Gurven focuses his research in two principal areas: human social behavior and life history evolution. He has studied how members of small-scale societies organize inter-personal relations to solve salient, recurrent economic problems. This includes the sharing of food and labor among foragers and horticulturalists and different forms of assistance during periods of distress and conflict. He has published extensively on the economics of exchange and food production, and on problems of small-scale collective action, based on fieldwork the Ache of Paraguay and the Tsimane of Bolivia, two groups of South American Amazonian forager-horticulturalists.

His current research in biodemography attempts to explain extended childhood, large brains, long lives, extensive cooperation and family formation among hunter-gatherers, and implications for understanding processes of development, aging and intergenerational resource transfers across the lifespan. He also focuses on how acculturation and market integration have impacted demographic and social patterns among indigenous populations. Since 2002, Gurven has directed the Tsimane Life History and Health Project (with Hillard Kaplan), an initiative funded by the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, to understand biological and social contexts of life history tradeoffs affecting life span.



Sample Publications