Two prehistoric Southwestern societies, the Black Mesa Anasazi and the Winslow Tradition of the Hopi Buttes, are used to demonstrate different types of adaptation to an increasing population.
I indicate that changes in population density can be used to better understand the structure of society, as well as to investigate culture change. The role of demography, however, must be seen in the perspective of a single sub-system within the entire cultural and natural system. Viewed in this way, population pressure is a single part of the human ecosystem and not a simple cause or effect of culture change.
The holistic approach of cultural ecological studies in anthropology has, in the last decade, proven to be a generally successful means for helping to understand the structure of cultural systems and also for elucidating some of the processes of culture change. The ecosystem concept is important to anthropology because of its holistic and synthetic characteristics; nevertheless anthropologists, for a variety of reasons, have used the ecosystem approach on a relatively simplistic, mechanical level which has limited the success of even the better studies.