How much is enough? Hunters and limited needs

Kristen Hawkes, James F. O'Connell, Kim Hill, Eric L. Charnov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


The notion that hunter-gatherers need little and so limit what they take from available resources has been extremely influential in anthropology. We present an optimal foraging model that suggests testable predictions that are inconsistent with the postulate of "limited needs". We evaluate these predictions in light of data from the Aché of eastern Paraguay and other groups, and find that the hypotheses based on the limited needs postulate are generally falsified, whereas those derived from the optimal foraging model are generally supported.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-15
Number of pages13
JournalEthology and Sociobiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1985
Externally publishedYes


  • Hunter-gatherers
  • Hunting effort
  • Limited needs
  • Lowland South America
  • Optimal foraging

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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