Carrying capacity, or the maximum potential population in a particular environment, has been an attractive concept for grasping human-environment relationships. This concept is expected to predict the future potential for human survival in rural areas of developing countries, taking sustainable development parameters into account. Since there are various problems in applying the carrying capacity to the real situations, however, revisions and additions to the conventional concept are apparently needed. Based on empirical information from Papua New Guinea communities, this paper aims to criticize the concept and proposes some alternations to it.
In tropical waters reefs provide local populations with food as well as with a source of income. Various types of regulatory measures have been adopted worldwide for the sustainable use of these resources. The cases of Papua New Guinea and Indonesia are examined to evaluate the roles of customary practices under rapidly changing socio-economic conditions. In Maluku, eastern Indonesia, harvesting of coconut, sago, trepang, trochus, and reef fish is controlled by sasi, community-based resource management practices, under prior authorization by the head of local government. In Manus, Papua New Guinea, reefs are exclusively claimed and used by certain clan members. Disputes over reef ownership are resolved through either informal compromise between local groups or judgment in the local court, which gives customary practices top priority. These cases illustrate the significant role of local government as an important agency for resource management as well as social integration.
Studies of ecological anthropology in Papua New Guinea have been quite successful in showing that the peoples under study have developed various adaptive mechanisms in relation to their environmental settings. Their basic assumption, that it does not matter at all whether the peoples are aware of their adaptive mechanisms or not, however, poses a problem concerning development. As my data obtained from the Fasu of the Southern Highlands show, Papua New Guineans are aware of their adaptation in relation to environmental settings. It is the people concerned, not those who are responsible for the introduction of a development project, who should assess whether the project is sustainable or not; their assessments in their own terms are ecologically rational.
In developed countries, deaths from infectious diseases have decreased and those from chronic diseases have increased with modernization. In many developing countries which are undergoing rapid modernization, these changes have been accelerated, with marked variation from population to population. A typical pattern is observed in the risks of chronic diseases, like cardiovascular disorders and diabetic mellitus, which are closely associated with activity pattern and food intake. This paper reviews the relationship between modernization and health conditions in South Pacific countries, Papua New Guinea in particular, and discusses the significance of health and diseases in achieving ongoing sustainable development.
Sea barriers are an effective means of limiting the dispersal of terrestrial vertebrates. Fossil evidence shows, however, that land mammals have colonized islands. The island faunas are impoverished, and from the faunal composition it can be learned that only large mammals with good swimming and/or floating capacities could settle on these islands. Such mammals include elephants, deer, and hippos. In some cases paleoecological conditions on islands have led to the development of faunas with dwarf species. It is generally accepted that man was established on islands in the Neolithic. There is, however, an increasing amount of evidence that in some cases, migration of hominids across sea barriers initially occurred much earlier. The presence of flowery Palaeolithic industry on Sardinia (Italy) points to a Middle Pleistocene colonization of this island. Other islands in the Mediterranean, like Crete and Cyprus, were colonized only in the Neolithic. This proves that the distance of the island to the coast of the mainland was not the only limiting factor on colonization of islands by early Man. Other factors such as food supply also play a role. On Sardinia a hare-like mammal Prolagus existed. This animal had a high reproduction rate and could have served as a continuous food supply for a hunter-gatherer population. On the islands of S.E. Asia we find giant rats. These mammals could have served as a food supply for Palaeolithic Man. On Flores artifacts are found in association with a Middle Pleistocene fauna. Palaeontological evidence shows a faunal turnover in the Middle Pleistocene on both Sardinia (Italy) and Flores (Indonesia).
Craniometric analyses were employed to assess the degree of variation among previously recognized Ainu populations. Heterogeneity among populations was evaluated by calculating the contribution of among-group variation to total variation. The analyses were designed to investigate the hierarchical population structure represented by River groups within Province groups. River groups were defined in previous ethnological studies and were regarded as strongly isolated social units. However, univariate and multivariate analyses did not support this view. Cranial heterogeneity was most apparent in comparisons of Province groups composed of several River groups. The degree of heterogeneity was statistically greater than that among all River groups and was also greater than that among archaeological Jomon populations from Honshu. The great heterogeneity among Province groups was also supported by pair-wise distance analysis. The pattern of variation revealed by principal component analysis was different for each sex. The main contribution to regional variation was provided by male facial measurements. These results give a baseline for discussion about Ainu population history and microevolution, adaptation to different environments, intermarriage, and admixture with foreign populations.
A comparative study of nonmetric cranial variation revealed population affinities between the Northeast and East Asians. The recent eastern Siberian populations were basically divided into the three groups defined by Debets (1951), though the Baikal group peoples, consisting of the Amur, Evenki and Yukagir, do not cluster together. The Yukagir remain intermediate between the Baikal and Central Asian groups, while the Evenki are isolated from other Siberians, probably because of their small sample size. The Neolithic Baikalian are close to the Amur peoples, while the Troitskoe of the Mo-ho culture from the Amur basin show some close affinities with the Central Asian group. Because the Central Asian group peoples are more similar to the Northern Chinese than to the Neolithic Baikalian, the former two seem likely to have interacted with each other since the Neolithic age. The Hokkaido Ainu show no close affinity with the Neolithic or the later Siberian Mongoloids, nor with the Europeans.