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Leporids and Landscapes: Stable Isotope Ratios of Rabbit and Hare Bones Reflect Local Environmental Conditions at Modern and Archaeological Sites

Author(s): Margaret Schoeninger ; Andrew Somerville

Year: 2015

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Summary

This study investigates the utility of stable isotope analysis (δ13C apatite, δ18O apatite, δ13C collagen and δ15N collagen) of leporid (rabbit and hare) bones to monitor the environmental conditions in which the animals lived. Since leporids were one of the most commonly consumed vertebrates in the pre-Hispanic New World, their skeletal remains are frequently found at archaeological sites. The relatively small home ranges and short lifespans of leporids, moreover, make them an ideal species to monitor temporal changes in local environmental conditions. Here we present the preliminary results of stable isotope analysis of 145 modern specimens representing multiple environmental zones from across the United States and Mexico. Strong correlations between local environmental characteristics (i.e., mean annual precipitation, grass coverage, and ecosystem type) and bone isotope values indicate the utility of using leporid bones in environmental research. These baseline data are compared with archaeological leporid isotope values (N=320) from four archaeological sites (Teotihuacan, La Quemada, La Ferrería, and Pueblo Grande) in different ecological regions, demonstrating the applicability of such analyses.

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Leporids and Landscapes: Stable Isotope Ratios of Rabbit and Hare Bones Reflect Local Environmental Conditions at Modern and Archaeological Sites. Andrew Somerville, Margaret Schoeninger. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398310)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;

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