What happens when you get a archaeologist, an ecologist, and a paleontologist to in the same room to look at old data with a new lens? You get, “Productivity, biodiversity, and pathogens influence the global hunter-gatherer population density,” published in PNAS, where the influence of environmental conditions on the abundance of pre-industrial humans is investigated. It reminds me a lot of Guns, Germs and Steel, but with more an analytical approach.

While it was published in December of 2017, lead author Miikka Tallavaara put up a little behind the paper summary in Nature Ecology & Evolution. The intersection of primary productivity, biodiversity, and pathogens and the density of ethnographically documented hunter-gatherer is outlined beautifully there. I think the most important image is the following, where NPP stands for net primary productivity. I would recommend jumping over to the Nature summary and having a good read.