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Kathryn Demps "Katie"

Kathryn Demps, "Katie"

Graduate Student

218 Young Hall
Davis , CA 95616

Office Hours for :

  • Spring: Mondays, 2:00 - 4:00pm


  1. 2012 Expected award of Ph.D.
  2. 2007 Advanced to Candidacy, UC Davis
  3. 2006 M.A. Anthropology, UC Davis
  4. 2005 B.S. Anthropology, UCLA



Evolution of Human Behavior: cultural evolution, human evolutionary ecology, India, Micronesia, 

Bruce Winterhalder (advisor)


I study the evolution of human behavior using cultural evolution theory and human behavioral ecology.  My dissertation topic examines optimal learning strategies for acquiring ecological knowledge.  I work with a small scale society living in forest preserves in south of India.   Depending on difficulty of skill/knowledge to be learned and costs of knowledge acquisition, I predict various social learning patterns depending on information economies.  Ultimately, I enjoy testing theoretical models of social and cultural evolution in a real-world setting in order to participate in a recursive process which will lead to a better understanding of the evolution of behavior.


I am also involved with a project with Victoria Reyes Garcia (Autonomous University of Barcelona) on the ontogeny of learning focusing on ecological knowledge, especially skills and information required for wild honey collection in south India.  We use quantitative methods to understand how ecological knowledge is acquired and how it affects quality of life and implementation of conservation efforts.  To this I add a qualitative analysis of social learning and the individual and population-level factors that affect knowledge transmission.


Aside from fieldwork, I belong to the cultural evolution lab at Davis, which uses a digital environment to study social learning in individuals and microsocieties.  Use the link below to see ongoing experiments or to sign up for one.


Teaching Experience:

Kinship and Social Organization (Ant128a)

Behavior and Evolutionary Biology of the Human Lifecycle (Ant 15)

Introduction to Physical Anthropology (Ant 1)

Evolution of Human Nature (Ant 50)



Demps, K., Zorondo-Rodriguez, F., Garcia, C., Reyes-Garcia, V. (in press) Social learning across the lifecycle: Cultural knowledge acquisition for honey hunting among the Jenu Kuruba. Evolution and Human Behavior.

Zorondo-Rodriguez, F., Gomez, E., Demps, K., Ariza-Montobbia, P., Garcia, C., Reyes-Garcia, V. (in press) What defines quality of life?  The gap between public policies and locally defined indicators among residents of Kodagu, Karnataka (India).  Social Indicators Research.

Macura, B., Garcia, C., Demps, K., Zorondo, F., Reyes-Garcia, V. (2011) Local community attitudes towards reserve  forests: A case study in Kodagu, Western Ghats, India. Ecology and Society.

Reyes-Garcia, V., Kightely, E., Ruiz-Mallen, I., Fuentes Pelaez, N., Demps, K., Huanca, T., Martinez-Rodriguez, M. R.  (2010) Schooling and local environmental knowledge: Do they complement of subsitute each other?  International  Journal of Educational Development. 30: 305-313.

Demps, K., Zorondo-Rodriguez, F., Garcia, C., Reyes-Garcia, V. (under review) The Selective Persistence of Local Ecological Knowledge: Honey collecting with the Jenu Kuruba.  Human Ecology

Kightley, E., Reyes-Garcia, V., Demps, K., Magtanong, R. V., Ramenzoni, V., Thampy, G., Stepp, J. R. (submitted)  Measuring traditions ecological knowledge: Does knowledge mean skill? A case study among the Tsimane.


Demps, K. Reyes-Garcia, V., Zorondo-Rodriguez, F., Garcia, C.  The selective resilience of local ecological knowledge.  HBES, Montpellier, Fr, July 2011.

Demps, K., McElreath, R.  The context dependence of social learning.  American Anthropological Association meetings, New, Orleans, November 2010.

Demps, K. Reyes-Garcia, V., Zorondo-Rodriguez, F., Garcia, C. Social Learning across the Lifecycle: Honey Hunting with the Jenu Kuruba, HBES, Eugene, OR, June 2010

Demps, K. Reyes-Garcia, V., Garcia, C. Factors affecting the loss of traditional knowledge for the Jenu Kuruba, a forest-dwelling tribe in Kodaug, South India.  International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences, Kunming, China, July 2009.

Demps, K. 2009.  Transmission of Ecological Knowledge in the Western Ghats.  Colloquium for the French Institute of Pondicherry, Pondicherry, India, January 2009.

Demps, K. Dynamics of parent-child cultural transmission.  Society for Human Ecology, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, October 2007.

Demps, K., McElreath, R.  The dynamics of parent-child cultural transmission.  Human  Behavior and Evolution Society, College of William and Mary, Virginia, June 2007.

Demps, K., Fessler, D., Snyder, J.  Exploring the origins of the sex difference in disgust sensitivity: a test of the male signaling hypothesis.  Human Behavior and Evolution Society Annual Meeting, Berlin, Germany, July 2004.



Cultural Evolution Lab

Bruce Winterhalder

Pete Richerson

Richard McElreath

Center for Behavior, Evolution, and Culture, UCLA

Ethnoecology Laboratory, Autonomous University of Barcelona


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