Evolution and Ecology in Oceania

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 80th Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (2015)

The diverse islands of Oceania are model locations for the study of human ecology and evolution. This session addresses the dynamic interaction between the prehistoric inhabitants of Oceania and their island environments.  Papers in this session will address theoretical and substantive issues from a range of ecological and evolutionary approaches. We also welcome submissions with a focus on new methods used to address ecological and evolutionary questions. These may include, but are not limited to, geospatial techniques, genetics, geochemical and isotopic methods, paleoecological techniques, and simulation modeling. Geographically, the papers in the session will encompass the whole of Oceania. Session contributions will explore a variety of topics across diverse island ecosystems, for example, responses to climate change, social network and community analysis, human impacts on island environments, socio-cultural evolution, cultural transmission, niche construction, and settlement and mobility. Synthesis and review papers are also welcome.

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Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-12 of 12)

  • Documents (12)

  • Agent Based Modeling (ABM) Approaches to Understanding Prehistoric Forager Ecology in Tokelau (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Darby Filimoehala.

    Exploring the complex relationship between humans and the environment is essential for understanding important mechanisms of cultural change. The last decade has given rise to advances in zooarchaeological research and computer-based modeling that provide tools to examine the links between environmental variability and human cultures. This paper draws on assumptions derived from evolutionary ecology using Agent Based Models (AMB), to test predictions regarding foraging and marine exploitation in...

  • Artifact Networks, Cultural Transmission, and Polynesian Settlement (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John O'Connor.

    The colonization of Polynesia was a motivated dispersal of culturally related human populations on a massive geographic scale. The settlement of distant oceanic islands involved the development and sharing of technological information specific to local environments, including exclusively stylistic aspects of artifact design. A reassessment of artifact comparisons from a neo-Darwinian evolutionary perspective continues to provide information regarding social interaction among island communities....

  • Despotism, cooperation, and the evolution of social hierarchy in prehistoric Hawai‘i (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Robert DiNapoli.

    Ancient Hawaiian society is often emphasized as a locus for the evolution of complex hierarchical polities. At the time of European contact, Hawaiian society was divided into a large class of commoners and a smaller class of hereditary chiefs and land-managers, the latter controlling a vastly disproportionate share of land and resources. This despotism by Hawaiian elites is regularly emphasized in discussions of the ‘development of the state’; however, the high level of cooperation inherent in...

  • Developing a microfossil key for Fiji from modern herbarium specimens (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rebecca Hazard. John Dudgeon.

    Microfossil analysis provides a valuable proxy for inferring prehistoric environmental conditions as well as direct evidence for the presence of agricultural domesticates and other important subsistence cultigens. However, the body of reference material for identifying individual plant morphotypes is lacking. Here we present our preliminary efforts at assessing the efficacy of modern herbarium specimens as a key for identifying archaeological sedimentary and calculus-derived microfossils. We...

  • The evolution of "hyper-locality" on Rapa Nui (Easter Island) (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Terry Hunt. Carl Lipo.

    The archaeology and prehistory of Rapa Nui (Easter Is.) reveals a paradox. Despite the island’s diminutive size and the lack of natural barriers preventing social interaction, prehistoric populations on the island show patterns of "hyper-locality." Evidence from ancient human genetics and multiple artifact classes show significant co-variation with space on an enigmatically small scale. Such spatial autocorrelation is likely explained by the structure of interactions in the context of Rapa Nui’s...

  • Examining The Temporal Scale of Human-Environmental Relationships on Ofu Island, Manu‘a Group, American Samoa (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Seth Quintus. Jeffrey Clark.

    Pacific Islands have long been considered natural laboratories or model systems for the examination of human-environmental relationships. The impact of temporally variable environments on human populations is now well-documented throughout the Pacific, though questions remain on how the variable temporal scale of environmental change can modify the human response to these changes. An opportunity to address this question is presented by the cultural sequence of Ofu Island, a small island in the...

  • Further evidence for a terrestrial-focused protein diet in prehistoric Rapa Nui (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only John Dudgeon. Rebecca Hazard. Amy Commendador.

    Previous analyses of subsistence activities on Rapa Nui generated new classes of data to explain human persistence on this remote, subtropical and ecologically-marginal island. Even compared to other small to medium-sized islands in Eastern Polynesia, Rapa Nui appears anomalous for: 1) an apparent shift away from marine protein sources, determined from stable isotope analysis of bone collagen, and 2) a far greater reliance on a single terrestrial carbohydrate (Ipomoea batatas), determined from...

  • Modeling climate impacts and human predation on marine populations using prey age profiles: an agent based model (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christopher Filimoehala. Alex Morrison. Melinda Allen.

    Archaeological assemblages provide data on marine prey age which can inform researchers about the influence of human predation and climate related habitat change. While, human predation may generally lead to a reduced mean prey age, climate related impacts may produce different age profile patterns. In this paper we model the impact of both human foraging and climate change on prey age using an agent based model. We assess our model results using zooarchaeological marine assemblages from...

  • Prehistoric Diet on Rapa Nui via Stable Isotope Analyses of Bone Collagen and Carbonate (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Amy Commendador. John Dudgeon. Bruce Finney.

    Previous analyses of carbon and nitrogen stable isotopes in dentin collagen from prehistoric individuals on Rapa Nui suggested a predominately terrestrial diet in the early phase of occupation, followed by a slight expansion into marine-based subsistence post-AD 1650. This was unexpected as the documented pattern across Polynesia is a marine-dominated strategy in the early phases of occupation with terrestrial resources incorporated later, as agricultural systems supplant foraging behaviors. To...

  • Prehistoric Fishing Declines at Chelechol ra Orrak, Palau: Resolving Issues of Anthropogenic Impacts and Long-Term Resource Sustainability (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Christina Giovas. Scott Fitzpatrick. Osamu Kataoka. Meagan Clark.

    Previous research at Chelechol ra Orrak in the Rock Islands of Palau has revealed several critical shifts in marine resource exploitation between ca. 3000/1700 – 0 BP. These changes include a decline in fishing, increased reliance on molluscs, particularly Mactra clams, and statistically significant size increases in one of the most heavily exploited gastropod species, Gibberulus (Strombus) gibberulus. Commonly invoked explanatory mechanisms, such as broad scale climate change and anthropogenic...

  • Ring Graph Analyses of Early Communities on Rapa Nui Measuring the Distribution of Stone-lined Earth Ovens (umu) (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Damion Sailors.

    Agricultural societies are commonly thought to have begun as small, kinship-based groups of people that eventually extended their social interaction beyond the household level and intensified their adaptive efforts through a variety of means. Most of these early, sedentary communities began to demonstrate aspects of social inequality and had cooperative, centralized settlements which have left a detectable pattern in the archaeological record. For this paper, stone-lined earth ovens from the...

  • The View from Rapa: Behavioral Ecology and Fortifications in Polynesia (2015)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Brian Lane.

    Fortifications are found in the archaeological record around the world. Studies of fortifications on the landscape tend to focus on aspects of human territoriality, especially in relation to conflict, economics, and resources. This paper takes a Human Behavioral Ecology approach to territoriality and applies the use of viewsheds, as derived from a GIS database, to the examination of a central resource. Rapa, Austral Islands, French Polynesia, is often cited as a classic example of an island...