Simulating Forager Mobility

This page hosts the open-access software for CHER's Simulating Forager Mobility project. In overview, this project uses the Netlogo agent-based simulation modeling platform to examine the variables that influence hunter-gatherer mobility patterns. We are currently in the process of beta testing our simulation programs, so we ask for your help should you encounter any issues! For more information, please download our beta testing manual here. This manual provides a full explanation of what the simulations models do, what the settings mean, and it provides some tips about how to operate the software.

Don't want to read the manual? Here are some basics:

1. Choose the model you want to run from the html links below. "Residential Mobility" explores some standard parameters of hunter-gatherer mobility in idealized environments where food resources are randomly distributed. "Waterhole Tethering" explores mobility in situations in which hunter-gatherers are tied to surface water availability during an adjustable dry season. "Logistical Mobility" explores situations in which food resources are clustered in space and time, and in which foragers know the locations of these food resource clusters. "Logistical Hybrid" examines situations in which food resources are clustered for one adjustable season and randomly distributed in another.

2. To run the simulation, press the "setup" button to arrange the food resources on the board. Press the "go" button to run the simulation model program. Press the "go" button again to stop the program and press the "setup" button to reset the board.

3. The slider bars on the right side of the display board are dials that control the parameters of the simulation model. You can play around with them to figure out what they do!

4. The graphs at the right of the display board read out the data produced by the simulation model. The top graph reads out the number of residential moves per analytical year. The bottom graph has three lines: the red line reads out the cumulative return rate, i.e. the energy collected by the forager divided by the distance traveled; the black line reads out the starvation rate, i.e. the number of starvation periods in which return rate falls below 1 per analytical decade. The green line reads out the return rate threshold, i.e. the threshold at which the forager will make the decision to move residential camps.

5. The easiest way to run the models is to open the html links below. They will run in your web browser like any other webpage. We recommend, however, downloading the Netlogo software platform, which is free and open-source here: One you have done so, you can open the Netlogo files below with ".nlogo" extensions. They will run a little faster and are programmable, should you develop the intestinal fortitude necessary to do so!

SFM html links (download the file, click on it, and it should open in your browser):

SFM ".nlogo" files: