Foraging Performance, Prosociality, and Kin Presence Do Not Predict Lifetime Reproductive Success in Batek Hunter-Gatherers
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Identifying the determinants of reproductive success in small-scale societies is critical for understanding how natural selection has shaped human evolution and behavior. The available evidence suggests that status-accruing behaviors such as hunting and prosociality are pathways to reproductive success, but social egalitarianism may diminish this pathway. Here we introduce a mixed longitudinal/cross-sectional dataset based on 45 years of research with the Batek, a population of egalitarian rain forest hunter-gatherers in Peninsular Malaysia, and use it to test the effects of four predictors of lifetime reproductive success: (i) foraging return rate, (ii) sharing proclivity, (iii) cooperative foraging tendency, and (iv) kin presence. We found that none of these factors can explain variation in lifetime reproduction among males or females. We suggest that social egalitarianism, combined with strikingly low infant and juvenile mortality rates, can mediate the pathway between foraging, status-accruing behavior, and reproductive success. Our approach advocates for greater theoretical and empirical attention to quantitative social network measures, female foraging, and fitness outcomes.
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