Investigating the Effect of the Environment on Prey Detection Ability in Humans.

Authors: Allen, P.J., Wiener, J.M., Gatzidis, C., Stringer, C.B. and Stewart, J.R.

Journal: Scientific Reports

Volume: 9

Issue: 1

ISSN: 2045-2322


Visual search experiments used in the field of psychology may be applied to investigate the relationship between environments and prey detection rates that could influence hunting behaviours in ancient humans. Two lab-based experiments were designed to examine the effects of differing virtual environments, representing Marine Isotope Stage 3 (MIS3) in Europe, on participants' ability to locate prey. The results show that prey detection performance is highly influenced by vegetation structure, both in terms of the biome type (wooded vs. grassland environments) and the density of the vegetation (trees in wooded and shrubs in grassland environments). However, the density of vegetation has a greater relative effect in grassland than in wooded biomes. Closer examination of the transition between biomes (relative percentages of trees vs. shrubs) at the same vegetative density shows a non-linear relationship between prey detection performance and the relative tree to shrub percentages. Changes in the distribution of biomes occurred throughout the Quaternary. The composition of those biomes will have likely affected hominin hunting behaviours because of their intermediary effects on prey detection performance. This may, therefore, have played a role in the turn-overs of hunter-gatherer hominin populations during MIS3 and at other times in the Quaternary.

Source: BURO EPrints