PLOS ONE: Space Competition and Time Delays in Human Range Expansions. Application to the Neolithic Transition | Humans old and new |

Space competition effects are well-known in many microbiological and ecological systems.


Here the authors analyze such an effect in human populations.


The Neolithic transition (change from foraging to farming) was mainly the outcome of a demographic process that spread gradually throughout Europe from the Near East.


In Northern Europe, archaeological data show a slowdown on the Neolithic rate of spread that can be related to a high indigenous (Mesolithic) population density hindering the advance as a result of the space competition between the two populations.


By measuring this slowdown from a database of 902 Early Neolithic sites and develop a time-delayed reaction-diffusion model with space competition between Neolithic and Mesolithic populations, to predict the observed speeds.


The comparison of the predicted speed with the observations and with a previous non-delayed model show that both effects, the time delay effect due to the generation lag and the space competition between populations, are crucial in order to understand the observations.

Via David Connolly