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[Paper Spotlight] Changes in juvenile Hadza foraging behavior during subsistence transition

A cool new paper, out today in Human Nature, examines how the early transition to a mixed-subsistence economy affects juvenile foraging behavior among the Hadza of Tanzania.

Changes in Juvenile Foraging Behavior among the Hadza of Tanzania during Early Transition to a Mixed-Subsistence Economy

Trevor R. Pollom, Kristen N. Herlosky, Ibrahim A. Mabulla & Alyssa N. Crittenden


The Hadza foragers of Tanzania are currently experiencing a nutritional shift that includes the intensification of domesticated cultigens in the diet. Despite these changes, no study, to date, has examined the possible effects of this transition on the food collection behavior of young foragers. Here we present a cross-sectional study on foraging behavior taken from two time points, 2005 and 2017. We compare the number of days foraged and the type and amount of food collected for young foragers, aged 5–14 years, in age- and season-matched samples. Compared with 2005, in 2017 fewer subadults left camp to forage, and overall, they targeted a smaller variety of wild foods, with the noticeable absence of wild honey, figs, and tubers. In addition, participants in 2017 were significantly more likely to have attended school. Despite the increased presence of domesticated plant foods in the diet and increased attendance at school, some young foragers continue to be highly productive in collecting wild, undomesticated foods. Despite the preliminary nature of our results, our findings suggest that the range of wild foods targeted by subadults is decreasing as the amount of domesticated cultigens in the diet increases. These data underscore the importance of studying diet composition and foraging decisions across temporal, nutritional, and ecological landscapes.


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