This paper takes a resilience approach to examining human forager-prey dynamics using as a case study Huaorani hunting in the Ecuadorian Amazon. I compare methodologically similar datasets collected in the same Huaorani villages in 1996-1997 and 2001. Rather than assuming that human hunters simply act on prey species and linearly drive them to depletion, a resilience approach views this dynamic as a complex social and ecological system characterized by feedbacks, nonlinearities, uncertainty, unpredictability, and non-equilibrium dynamics. Using a computer simulation of human foragers and prey (published previously), I highlight how even using relatively simple assumptions, the human forager-prey relationship exhibits patterns of nonlinearity and feedbacks. I then address one key aspect of a resilience approach: the focus on issues of scale. I note the surprising persistence of primates and cracid birds in the Huaorani harvest—both prey types vulnerable to overexploitation especially by hunters with a relatively long settlement history and use of firearms. I assert that this finding reflects a source-sink dynamic that stems from a distinct Huaorani social history and requires larger spatial scales of analyses to evaluate hunting sustainability. The literature on indigenous neotropical hunting and conservation could benefit greatly from a resilience framework recognizing that human hunter-faunal prey dynamics in the Amazon are complex and require multifaceted and interdisciplinary approaches that are cross-scale and take into account the sociocultural and political as well as the ecological context.
Lu, Flora. "Patterns of Indigenous Resilience in the Amazon: A Case Study of Huaorani Hunting in Ecuador." Journal of Ecological Anthropology 14, no. 1 (2010): 5-21.
Available at: http://scholarcommons.usf.edu/jea/vol14/iss1/1