Ant 263: Labs

Anthropology 263
Human Applications of Foraging Theory (4 units)
Spring Quarter, 2009; CRN # 93509 
224 Young Hall; Wednesday; 10:AM to 1:00 PM


Laboratory Exercises

In each case you are asked to use an Excel or similar spreadsheet to make operational a model that solves a particular foraging problem. If you and your teammates prefer to work in "R," "Mathematica" of a similar program, you may.

These are open-ended exercises. Start as simple as possible, but be creative and see how far you can push the analysis. If you can get to the level of programming and macros, that would be ideal. There are two goals here. The first is to delve into the mechanics of the models in a way that aids understanding of them. The second is to learn about the versatility of spreadsheets for such exercises and analysis.

You should prepare a written laboratory report prior to the class designated for “review” of the exercise. Your report should:

- describe the problem and the conceptual model you are using;

- outline your particular means of making the model operational; 

- describe and analyze the results you obtained, including any problems you encountered; and,

- finally, reflect briefly on what you learned.

Be sure to carefully document your variables, equations, etc., within the spreadsheet. Four to five double-space pages of text should suffice for the report, supplemented by output tables and graphs. Keep a diskette (and back) up, with each of your spreadsheets and laboratory reports labeled as follows: TeamName_Rpt#.doc, TeamName_Ex#.xls, etc. Initials might be your real initials or team name or mascot. Please send me a copy of each as an e-mail attachment, and be prepared, as a team, to make a class presentation on your model and results, using an overhead projector. back to top

Week 3 
(15 April)
#1 Using Schoener (1974) for your basic equation, create a spreadsheet capable of analyzing for optimal diet breadth for a human forager and at least four resource types. Output in tabular form.  
Week 4 
(22 April)

#2 Using either Charnov (1976) or Sih (1980) for your basic model, set up a spreadsheet analysis of optimal patch-residence time, or optimal partial consumption, respectively. Output in tabular and graphical form.

Review of EXERCISE #1

Week 5 
(29 April)

#3 Using the ideal free distribution (Fretwell and Lucas, Jr., 1970), set up a spreadsheet that will plot the population density of at least two habitats, as a function of increasing population size. Output in tabular and graphical form.

Review of EXERCISE #2


Week 6
(6 May)
#4 Using either Metcalfe and Barlow (1992), or Bettinger et la. (1997), set up a spreadsheet that will calculate the travel distance at which field processing becomes optimal, for a resource of given utility, bulk, processing costs, etc. Tabular and graphical output, if possible. OR Using Zeanah (2002), set up a spreadsheet that will calculate when a central place foraging band should move from location A (with logistical forays to get resources from location B) to location B (with logistical forays to get resources from A). Output in tabular and graphical form. Review of EXERCISE #3


Week 7 
(13 May)

#5 Using Stephens and Charnov (1982) and Winterhalder et al. (1999), set up a spreadsheet that will calculate and rank the relative utility of at least four resources characterized by acquisition rate stochasticity (mean and variance).

Review of EXERCISE #4


Week 8 
(20 May)
#6 Using Winterhalder (1996), as a starting point, pick a resource distribution model and make an illustrative model of how it might work in practice. Review of EXERCISE #5


Week 9 
(27 May)
#7 Create a simple dynamic model showing how a predator population might interact with at least one prey population over time. Output in tabular and graphical form. Review of EXERCISE #6


Week 10 
(3 June)
Last class Review of EXERCISE #7


back to top