Archaeological Implications of Vegetation Shifts in the Northern Chihuahuan Desert
Modern climate and ecological data from the Northern Chihuahuan Desert suggests that precipitation is temporally and spatially localized leading to pulses of plant production. Regional paleo-environmental models have been developed that focus on large temporal and spatial scales. These scales obscure short-term human adaptation within this region. We present a study of stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes of bone collagen from leporids that can provide a high-resolution proxy for aspects of the region’s paleoecology. Cottontails and jackrabbits have a generalized feeding strategy, restricted home range, and short lives. As such, their diet, and their collagen, likely reflect local vegetation regimes at short (ca. 2 year) temporal scales. Focusing on carbon as an indicator of vegetation types and nitrogen as an indicator of aridity, 33 modern and 212 prehistoric (AD 600 to AD 1350) leporid specimens from 10 archaeological sites were analyzed. Our results show a dramatic shift in vegetation and an increase in climate variability over time that can be used to develop high-resolution models of prehistoric human adaptation within arid settings.
SAA 2015 abstracts made available in tDAR courtesy of the Society for American Archaeology and Center for Digital Antiquity Collaborative Program to improve digital data in archaeology. If you are the author of this presentation you may upload your paper, poster, presentation, or associated data (up to 3 files/30MB) for free. Please visit http://www.tdar.org/SAA2015 for instructions and more information.
Cite this Record
Archaeological Implications of Vegetation Shifts in the Northern Chihuahuan Desert. Leonard Kemp, Cynthia Munoz, Raymond Mauldin, Robert Hard. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398027)
This Resource is Part of the Following Collections
min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;