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Journal Article

The biogeography of land ownership

MPS-Authors
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Kirby,  Kathryn
Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Gavin,  Michael C.
Linguistic and Cultural Evolution, Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Kavanagh, P. H., Haynie, H. J., Kushnick, G., Vilela, B., Tuff, T., Bowern, C., et al. (2021). The biogeography of land ownership. Ecography, 44(1): 05205, pp. 67-74. doi:10.1111/ecog.05205.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0005-FD2A-0
Abstract
Biogeographers and macroecologists have rarely used the fields’ theoretical and methodological advances to explore factors associated with geographical patterns in human diversity. Here we conduct a global empirical test of long-standing theories from ecology, economics, and anthropology regarding potential drivers of land ownership and territoriality. Although land ownership may shape natural resource management and social-ecological resilience, the factors determining ownership norms in human societies remain unclear. Prior theory suggests that resource defensibility, subsistence strategies, population pressure, political complexity, and cultural transmission mechanisms may all influence land ownership. We applied multi-model inference procedures based on logistic regression to cultural and environmental data from 102 societies, 71 with some form of land ownership and 31 with no land ownership. We found an increased probability of land ownership in mountainous environments, where patchy resources may be more cost effective to defend via ownership. We also uncovered support for the role of population pressure, with a greater probability of land ownership in societies living at higher population densities. Our results also show more land ownership when neighboring societies also practiced ownership. We found less support for variables associated with subsistence strategies and political complexity. Recently published open-access datasets can now empower biogeographers to build on our approach here to explore spatial patterns in thousands of traits comprising human cultural diversity.