Adaptive Strategy – How a Community Survives in its Environment

It has been said that the human species is the most adaptable on Earth. We are constantly evolving, changing and adapting to our surroundings. This ability to adapt has helped us survive and flourish in a variety of environments around the world. But what is it that makes us so adaptable, and how do we go about adapting?

In this blog post, we will explore the concept of adaptive strategy and discuss some of the strategies humans use to adapt.

Define adaptive strategy

An adaptive strategy is a behaviour or set of behaviours that helps a community to survive and reproduce in its environment. It is a way of adapting to the conditions in which the society lives and helps it to better compete for resources.

Different types of adaptive strategies

There are many different types of adaptive strategies, and they vary depending on the environment in which the group of people lives.

Some common adaptive strategies include:

  • Foraging – the process of searching for food and resources in the environment.
  • Hunting – the process of catching prey using weapons or tools.
  • Gathering – the process of collecting natural resources from the environment.
  • Raiding – the process of attacking other groups or settlements to steal resources.
  • Trading – the process of exchanging goods and services with other groups.
  • Bartering – the process of exchanging goods and services without the use of money.
  • Cooperation – working together to achieve a common goal.
  • Competition – the process of trying to outdo others in order to get resources or achieve a goal.

Adaptive strategies are important for survival in any environment. They allow people to find food and resources, and to protect themselves from danger. They can also help to strengthen social relationships within a group and promote cooperation between members.

Different members of the same community might opt to use different adaptive strategies depending on their individual needs and abilities. For example, some people might be better at foraging than others, or some might be better at hunting.

It is also common for different groups of people to use different adaptive strategies depending on the resources available in their environment. For example, groups living in areas with plenty of game might focus on hunting, while groups living in areas with lots of fruits and vegetables might focus on gathering.

A community’s adaptive strategies can change over time as the environment changes. For example, if a drought hits and there is not enough food to go around, people might start to raid other groups for supplies.

The anthropology perspective on adaptive strategy

Anthropologists study adaptive strategies to better understand how humans have adapted to different environments around the world. They also use this knowledge to help communities in need, such as those affected by climate change.

When studying adaptive strategies, anthropologists take a holistic approach that considers all aspects of human behaviour. This includes looking at the physical, biological, social and cultural factors that influence how people adapt.

Anthropologists often work with other scientists, such as ecologists and biologists, to get a better understanding of the environment in which a community lives. This helps them to identify the resources that are available and the dangers that might be present.

Anthropologists also use ethnographic methods to study how different communities use adaptive strategies. This involves spending time with a community and observing their everyday lives.

This type of research can help to identify the different adaptive strategies that are being used and how they are changing over time. It can also provide insights into the reasons why people use certain strategies and the challenges they face.

When studying adaptive strategies, anthropologists often use the term “resilience” to describe the ability of a community to recover from setbacks. This includes bouncing back from natural disasters, economic downturns or social conflict.

Resilience is an important concept in anthropology because it helps to explain how communities can survive and even thrive in difficult circumstances.

The study of adaptive strategies is a relatively new field of anthropology, but it is already providing valuable insights into the ways that humans adapt to their environment. This knowledge can be used to help communities in need and to protect our planet’s resources for future generations.


The anthropology perspective on adaptive strategy provides a different lens from which to view the concept. It is not just about reacting to change but also about understanding how culture and history shape our ability to respond to the future.

Related terminology:

Ecosystem – a community of different species of living organisms and their physical environment. It can be small, like a pond, or large, like a forest.

Habitat – the environment in which a particular species of plant or animal lives.

Natural Selection – the process by which certain traits become more common in a population over time. It is a natural process that happens over many generations.

Resource – anything that can be used to meet a need or want. Examples of resources include food, water, shelter, and clothing.

Settlement – a place where people live. It can be small, like a village, or large, like a city.

Subsistence – the meeting of basic needs for food, water, and shelter.

Tool – an object that is used to help complete a task. Tools can be simple, like a rock, or complex, like a machine.

Weapon – an object that is used to hurt or kill someone. Weapons can be simple, like a stick, or complex, like a gun.

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