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ABSTRACT

We argue that evolutionary and ecological models of territorial behavior are useful to archaeologists holding varied theoretical positions. First, we explain how evolutionary and ecological approaches complement, rather than conflict with, social agency and historicist approaches. Second, we review and expand upon models from evolutionary ecology and their application to the ethnographic and archaeological records. This review reveals that territorial behavior spans a continuum from defense of selected resources, to control of “home ranges” or spheres of influence, to complete defense of a proscribed geographic area. Third, we emphasize that archaeologists and modelers should explicitly define the demographic scale of territorial behavior under consideration, given that resource defense by large groups requires solutions to collective action problems. Finally, we suggest that the economic defensibility logic underlying ecological models of territoriality applies to any resource type, not just territory. Furthermore, social and political power often require successfully defending spatial territory. [evolutionary ecology, economic defensibility, territoriality, human behavioral variation, archaeology]