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Chapter 13: Environment, Adaption, and Subsistence

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Reading Assignment: Chapter 13: Environment, Adaption, and Subsistence

In this assignment you will become familiar with the basic natural environments in which human societies are found and how people adapt themselves to these environments. You will learn how the concept of adaptation is applied to biology and to culture.

Finally, you will learn the basic subsistence adaptations that anthropologists have found in various human societies.

Assignment Overview

MCQ   ::  Matching   ::  True/False  ::   Short Essay

MCQ - Chapter Chapter 13: Environment, Adaption, and Subsistence

1. Which is NOT a reason for the relationship between culture areas and natural environments?

a. Environmental boundaries are sometimes barriers to the movement of cultural traits.
b. Adaptations to similar environments are likely to yield similar cultures.
c. Diffusion occurs readily between cultures with similar environmental adaptations.
d. Environments determine the characteristics of culture.

2. Which is the type of natural area most densely inhabited by human beings?

a. grasslands
b. mixed forests
c. scrub forests
d. arid lands

3. Which of the following is NOT characteristic of tropical forests?

a. warm climates
b. abundant rainfall
c. high soil acidity
d. high agricultural productivity

4. Arid lands have typically been MOST useful to which of the following?

a. agriculturalists
b. pastoralists
c. horticulturists
d. foragers

5. Which of the following is NOT true of carrying capacity?

a. The upper limit on a population is determined by the characteristics of the environment.
b. Carrying capacity is influenced by food resources that are naturally available.
c. The upper limit on a population is determined by the natural resource that is most abundant.
d. Carrying capacity is the level at which populations tend to stabilize.

6. The oldest and simplest type of subsistence technology is which of the following?

a. Rainfall horticulture.
b. Pastoralism.
c. Foraging.
d. Slash-and-burn

7. Which of the following is NOT true of optimal foraging theory?

a. Explains why some foods are emphasized more than others.
b. Explains why some foods are regularly ignored by foragers.
c. Claims that foraging societies are most likely to be found in areas of optimal resources.
d. Likelihood of a resource being used is proportional to the calories per unit of effort required to obtain and prepare it

8. Which of the following is true of slash-and-burn horticulture?

a. It is most commonly practiced in tropical forests and savannas.
b. It involves the work of many people in one large garden for each village.
c. It can permit a family to support itself on a single garden plot.
d. It is usually the basis for a completely sedentary village life.

9. Which of the following represents the common view of the origin of pastoralism?

a. It evolved directly from foraging in animal rich environments.
b. It developed as farmers expanded into environmentally less productive zones.
c. It developed in environments where animal husbandry could replace farming.
d. It developed when warfare forced sedentary farmers to become migratory.

10. Which of the following is NOT true of industrialized agriculture?

a. A large percentage of the society is directly involved in food production.
b. It is more productive than traditional agriculture.
c. It is likely to have full-time governments that monopolize political power.
d. Its society is highly urbanized.

Matching Exercise - Chapter 13: Environment, Adaption, and Subsistence

1. scrub forests
2. tropical forests
3. grasslands
4. steppes
5. prairies
6. arid lands
7. boreal forests
8. polar lands
9. tundras
10. taigas
11. carrying capacity
12. subsistence technology

13. foraging
14. communal foraging
15. optimal foraging theory
16. sedentarism
17. horticulture
18. extensive cultivation
19. slash-and-burn cultivation
20. dry-land gardening
21. transhumance
22. intensive cultivation
23. traditional agriculture
24. industrialized agriculture



cultivation of crops using simple hand tools such as the hoe and digging stick and without fertilization of the soil, crop rotation, and often without irrigation



living in permanent or semipermanent settlements



the use of an industrialized technology and other techniques such as chemical soil fertilization to obtain high levels of food production per acre



regions between coasts and mountains with mild, wet winters and hot, dry summers



a form of pastoralism in which only a part of the group moves with the herd; some stay in villages and grow crops year round



the use of food growing techniques that permit permanent use of the same fields



a particular environment's ability to support a species on the available resources



principle that foragers use food resources in direct proportion to the caloric effort required to obtain them



horticulture that involves the use of land for short periods followed by periods of letting the land stand idle for several years



technology the tools and techniques by which people obtain food



intensive cultivation using simple tools such as hoes, shovels, and animal-drawn plows



regions with warm climates and abundant rainfall, plants, and animal life



areas of low annual rainfall and sparse cover with low-growing desert shrubs



areas that cover 26 percent of the earth's surface, with grasses of different types



level or undulating treeless plains in the arctic and subarctic regions of North America, Asia, and Scandinavia



a form of farming in which the land is prepared by cutting and burning the natural growth and in which several plots, in various stages of soil depletion, are worked in a cycle



heavily wooded regions dominated by coniferous trees



a subsistence technology based on gathering wild plant foods, hunting, and fishing



areas with tall varieties of grass that tolerate wetter climates



areas that cover stretches of southeastern Europe and Asia, with a short, hardy variety of grass




horticulture is carried out in arid environments with the aid of simple supplemental watering techniques



regions of cold climates near North and South poles



cooperative food gathering where fish and small game are meat resources and plants are easily collected



swampy coniferous forests of the northern lands south of the tundras

True/False - Chapter 13: Environment, Adaption, and Subsistence






1. Throughout most of history mixed forest have been the natural environment most densely inhabited by human beings.



2. Foraging is the least adequate subsistence technology at meeting human’s nutritional needs.



3. According to Lomax and Arensberg, foragers emphasize hand skills rather than tools.



4. Foraging societies tend to be rather competitive and warlike in their attempts to maintain control over vital resources.



5. The richer the environment of a foraging society is, the greater will be the diversity of food resources it utilizes.



6. Typically slash-and-burn horticulture requires heavier investments in human labor than does dry land gardening.



7. Because of their small local populations, warfare tends not to be common in the lives of horticulturists.



8. According to Michael Harner, the Shuar, (Jivaro) of Ecuador and Peru hunt meat with blowguns and darts covered with curare.



9. Among horticulturists, the authority of family organizations is typically great.



10. Compared with foraging, life based on horticulture generally leads to greater emphasis in child-rearing on compliance and responsibility in children

Short Essay Questions - Chapter 13: Environment, Adaption, and Subsistence

1. Why, according to Kroeber, do societies that occupy similar natural environments often share many similarities of culture?

2. Where is the greatest concentration of foragers today?

3. Describe the basic characteristics of band societies.

4. List and describe the differences between the four basic types of foraging adaptation that have been outlined by Ernestine Friedl.

5. According to Turnbull's description of the Ituri Forest Pygmy, how do net hunting bands contrast with archery hunting bands in terms of seasonal changes in their group structure?

6. Explain the idea of optimal foraging theory.

7. How did the development of food production alter the lives of human beings in terms of the size of their local communities and the length of their work weeks?

8. Explain the views of Frisch and McArthur about the effects of sedentarism and the shift of emphasis from hunting to gathering in the ancient Near East on human population growth.

9. How do horticulturists differ from foragers in their approach to government and family organization?

10. Why did pastoralists frequently have a militaristic lifestyle?

Copyright 2008, by the Contributing Authors. Cite/attribute Resource . admin. (2005, January 04). Chapter 13: Environment, Adaption, and Subsistence. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from Free Online Course Materials — USU OpenCourseWare Web site: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License Creative Commons License