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Considering Robustness and Vulnerability in Texas Hunter-Gatherer Social-Ecological Systems using Stable Isotope Data

Author(s): Raymond Mauldin ; Jacob Freeman ; Robert Hard

Year: 2015

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Summary

We analyze stable carbon and nitrogen isotopic data from over 200 foragers from inland, riverine, and coastal settings on the Texas Coastal Plain. Prehistoric foragers on the Texas Coastal Plain faced the challenge of maintaining a robust supply of food despite constant changes in their environments, including seasonal changes and changes that occurred over decades-to-centuries, like climate change and sea level rise. Given that coastal estuaries and inland river valleys had resources that peaked during different seasons, the best strategy for maintaining a consistent supply of food should have been to move between both settings on a seasonal basis. However, this strategy may have engendered vulnerabilities to longer term climate changes and periods of rapid sea level rise. The generally high productivity of coastal settings was, at various points, reduced by rapid sea-level rise, while inland climate change, such as periods of aridity, affected productivity of terrestrial ecosystems. Therefore, were subsistence regimes established by foragers on the Texas Coastal Plain sensitive to periods of aridity and rapid sea level rise or were subsistence regimes robust to such long-term environmental changes? Our study has implications for understanding the ability of human societies to cope with environmental change at multiple scales.

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Considering Robustness and Vulnerability in Texas Hunter-Gatherer Social-Ecological Systems using Stable Isotope Data. Robert Hard, Jacob Freeman, Raymond Mauldin. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 396679)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -113.95; min lat: 30.751 ; max long: -97.163; max lat: 48.865 ;

Arizona State University The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation National Science Foundation National Endowment for the Humanities Society for American Archaeology Archaeological Institute of America