While the overstocking perspective is based on a presumed ‘Tragedy of the Commons’, the other perspective argue that reindeer herding is characterised as a non-equilibrium system
“…where herbivore populations fluctuate randomly according to external influences, [and] the concepts of carrying capacity and overgrazing have no discernible meaning” (ibid.:223).
In my new paper, Cultural Group Selection and the Evolution of Reindeer Herding in Norway, I argue differently.
Through a comparative historical analysis, I argue that herding is better viewed as an assurance game with two different strategies for minimising risk:
- maximising quantity (i.e., increasing livestock numbers or herd size)
- maximising livestock quality (i.e., increasing livestock body mass)
I demonstrate that intra-group competition has led to the
adoption of (1) in the Northern parts of Norway, while inter-group competition has led to the adoption of (2) in the Southern parts.
Read the full paper here.