Help Privacy Policy Disclaimer
  Advanced SearchBrowse




Journal Article

One piece of the matrilineal puzzle: the socioecology of maternal uncle investment


Starkweather,  Kathrine E.       
Department of Human Behavior Ecology and Culture, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Max Planck Society;

External Resource
No external resources are shared
Fulltext (restricted access)
There are currently no full texts shared for your IP range.
Fulltext (public)
There are no public fulltexts stored in PuRe
Supplementary Material (public)
There is no public supplementary material available

Starkweather, K. E., & Keith, M. (2019). One piece of the matrilineal puzzle: the socioecology of maternal uncle investment. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 374(1780): 20180071. doi:10.1098/rstb.2018.0071.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0004-41BA-1
Maternal uncle relationships in which men invest resources (usually in the form of inheritance of material wealth) into their sisters' children are characteristic of matrilineal systems and hypothesized to arise under certain socioecological circumstances, but little research has systematically investigated conditions that are associated with this type of investment. We quantify relationships between household-level socioeconomic variables and different types of maternal uncle investment (direct care and indirect resource investment) within a bilateral, semi-nomadic population. Shodagor people of Bangladesh allow us to consider matrilineal behaviours in an evolutionary framework owing to their flexible social structure in which 39% of families receive some investment from a maternal uncle. Variables associated with direct maternal uncle care reflect the significance of maintaining consistent residence throughout the year and an increased need for childcare in families residing on boats versus those living on the land. Informative predictors of indirect investment indicate that a mother's birth history corresponds with more tangible contributions such as food and clothing. These results identify household-level variables specific to direct versus indirect maternal uncle investment, whereas having more older brothers or being firstborn increased the odds of a mother receiving any investment from brothers at all. Exploring these social and ecological associations in a bilateral, relatively flexible population unveils household circumstances that may lead to the development of female-biased kinship. This article is part of the theme issue ‘The evolution of female-biased kinship in humans and other mammals'.