McMicken College of Arts & SciencesMcMicken College of Arts & SciencesUniversity of Cincinnati

McMicken College of Arts & Sciences

Department of Anthropology

Department of Anthropology

Faculty and Staff

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Jeremy Koster

Title: Associate Professor
Office: 454 Braunstein Hall
Tel: 513-556-0020


  • Ph.D., Penn State University, 2007 (Anthropology).

Research Information

Research Interests

Professor Koster is a computational anthropologist who studies the relationship between socio-ecological variation and economic decision-making. Focusing on both the production and distribution of material resources, his research elucidates the adaptive strategies that individuals use to subsist in marginal environments. Particularly interested in social dilemmas relating to divisible resources, Koster studies how individuals engage with their kinship networks to mitigate subsistence risks and maximize returns on labor. He also examines the contexts that lead people to contribute to public goods, such as the conservation of natural resources.

From the perspective of human behavioral ecology (HBE), Professor Koster and his students use insights from evolutionary theory to understand human adaptive strategies. Compared to closely related primates, humans exhibit unique proclivities for social learning and large-scale prosociality. The demographic success of our species relates to the development of complex subsistence skills across a protracted lifespan, combined with cooperative strategies that serve to subsidize dependent offspring while they grow and learn. In light of this adaptive context, Koster's research examines behavior in naturalistic settings to test hypotheses about the selective advantages of the cognitive traits and skills that distinguish our species.

Oriented toward cross-cultural and longitudinal research, Professor Koster is currently working on several long-term projects. Focusing on the rise of global economic inequality, he and his co-investigators (Samuel Bowles, Monique Borgerhoff Mulder, Matthew Jackson, and Eleanor Power) are working with a team of 25 ethnographers to conduct prospective research in a cross-cultural sample of subsistence societies around the world. They are testing hypotheses that households dynamically leverage their social networks in ways that allow advantageously-positioned households to accrue greater wealth, thus increasing economic inequaliity. That project complements Koster's longitudinal research among indigenous forager-farmers in the Nicaraguan rain forest, a project that focuses on the ontogeny of economic specialization and the returns to prosocial behavior.

As a methodologist, Professor Koster advances multievel statistical models that are congruent with the hierarchical structures that typify quantitative field data. In particular, he is developing modeling approaches for dyadic data and multinomial outcomes that provide sharper insights into the data structure and individual-level tradeoffs, which can subsquently inform new theorizing about human behavior. Developed initially to address research problems that are common to human behavioral ecology, these methods also have potential applications in ecological and social science research more generally.


Peer Reviewed Publications

  • Koster, J. M. 2008. Hunting with dogs in Nicaragua: An optimal foraging approach. Current Anthropology 49: 935-944.[Link]
  • Koster, J. M. 2008. The impact of hunting with dogs on wildlife harvests in the Bosawas Reserve, Nicaragua. Environmental Conservation 35: 211-220.[Link]
  • Koster, J. M. 2008. Giant anteaters (Myrmecophaga tridactyla) killed by hunters with dogs in the Bosawas Biosphere Reserve, Nicaragua. The Southwestern Naturalist 53: 414-416.[Link]
  • Koster, J. M. 2009. Hunting dogs in the lowland Neotropics. Journal of Anthropological Research 65: 575-610.[Link]
  • Tankersley, K. B., and J. M. Koster. 2009. Sources of stable isotope variation in archaeological dog remains. North American Archaeologist 30: 361-375.
  • Koster, J. M., J. J. Hodgen, M. D. Venegas, and T. J. Copeland. 2010. Is meat flavor a factor in hunters' prey choice decisions? Human Nature 21: 219-242.[Link]
  • Koster, J. M. 2011. Hypothetical rankings of prospective husbands for female kin in lowland Nicaragua: Consensus analysis indicates high agreement and associations with wealth and hunting skill. Evolution and Human Behavior 32: 356-363.[Link]
  • Koster, J. M. 2011. On the Analysis of Risk-Sensitive Foraging: A Comment on Codding et al. Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B: Biological Sciences 278: 3171-3172.[Link]
  • Koster, J. M. 2011. Inter-household meat sharing among Mayangna and Miskito horticulturalists in Nicaragua. Human Nature 22: 394-415. [Link]
  • Koster, J. M., and K. B. Tankersley. 2012. Heterogeneity of hunting ability and nutritional status among domestic dogs in lowland Nicaragua. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109: E463-470.[Link]
  • Koster, J. M., and M. D. Venegas. 2012. Learning aspects of subsistence hunting via a conformist bias could promote optimal foraging in lowland Nicaragua. Journal of Cognition and Culture 12: 203-222.[Link]
  • Walker, R., S. Beckerman, M. Flinn, M. Gurven, C. von Rueden, K. Kramer, R. Greaves, L. Córdoba, D. Villar, E. Hagen, J. Koster, L. Sugiyama, T. Hunter, K. Hill. 2013. Living with kin in lowland horticultural societies. Current Anthropology 54: 96-103.[Link]
  • Koster, J., M. Grote, and B. Winterhalder. 2013. Effects on household labor of temporary out-migration by male household heads in Nicaragua and Peru: An analysis of spot-check time allocation data using mixed-effects models. Human Ecology 41: 221-237.[Link]
  • McElreath, R., and J. Koster. 2014 Using multilevel models to estimate variation in foraging returns: Effects of failure rate, harvest size, age, and individual heterogeneity. Human Nature 25: 100-120.[Link]
  • Koster, J., and G. Leckie. 2014. Food sharing networks in lowland Nicaragua:  An application of the social relations model to count data. Social Networks 38: 100-110.[Link]
  • Koster, J., G. Leckie, A. Miller, and R. Hames. 2015. Multilevel modeling analysis of dyadic network data with an application to Ye’kwana food sharing. American Journal of Physical Anthropology 157: 507-512.[Link]
  • Winking, J., and J. Koster. 2015. The fitness effects of men’s family investments: A test of three pathways in a single population. Human Nature 26:292-312.[Link]
  • Koster, J. M., O. Bruno, J. L. Burns. 2016. Wisdom of the elders? Ethnobiological knowledge across the lifespan. Current Anthropology 57:113-121.[Link]

Book Chapter

  • Koster, J. M., and A. J. Noss. 2014. Hunting dogs and the extraction of wildlife as a resource. Free-Ranging Dogs and Wildlife Conservation. Edited by Matthew Gompper, pp. 265-285. Oxford University Press.

Other Publications

  • Koster, J. M. 2006. Assessing the sustainability of Baird’s tapir hunting in the Bosawas Reserve, Nicaragua. Tapir Conservation 15: 23-28.[Link]
  • Koster, J. M. 2006. The use of The Observer 5.0 and a Psion handheld computer in a remote fieldwork setting. Field Methods 18: 430-436.[Link]
  • Koster, J. M. 2009. Costly signaling and consensus analysis. Anthropology News 50 (7): 54.[Link]
  • Koster, J. M. 2010. Informant rankings via consensus analysis: A reply to Hill and Kintigh. Current Anthropology 51: 257-258.[Link]
  • Koster, J. M. 2012. An extended comment on the analysis of risk-sensitive foraging among the Aché of Paraguay and a brief reply to Codding et al. University of Cincinnati Graduate Student Journal of Anthropology 4: 14-18.[Link]