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Steppes Across the Land: Reconstructions of Steppe Bison Mobility Patterns in East-Central Alaska through Isotopic Analyses and Implications for Prehistoric Human Behavior

Author(s): Crystal Glassburn ; Ben A. Potter ; Joshua D. Reuther ; Matthew J. Wooller

Year: 2016

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Summary

Steppe bison (Bison priscus) were an important species for interior Alaskan subsistence economies during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene, but the locations of preferred bison habitat areas, seasonal movement patterns, responses to environmental change, and other behavioral factors remain largely unexplored in Alaskan archaeology. This study applies strontium, oxygen, and carbon isotopic analyses to 14 sequentially-sampled and AMS radiocarbon dated steppe bison teeth from two locales in the Yukon-Tanana Uplands in order to reconstruct steppe bison behavior on a seasonal basis. This study is the first of its kind for a prehistoric species in Alaska, and the dataset encompasses both glacial and interglacial periods, which has allowed for behavioral comparisons between different climatic periods. The results suggest that bison behavioral ecology changed as climates warmed during the Pleistocene-Holocene transition, and climate change may have been the driving force behind the eventual extinction of steppe bison. These results are discussed with regards to how bison seasonal movement patterns, as well as longer-term behavioral changes, may have affected human settlement and subsistence patterns during the late Pleistocene and early Holocene in Alaska.


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Steppes Across the Land: Reconstructions of Steppe Bison Mobility Patterns in East-Central Alaska through Isotopic Analyses and Implications for Prehistoric Human Behavior. Crystal Glassburn, Ben A. Potter, Joshua D. Reuther, Matthew J. Wooller. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404711)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: -169.717; min lat: 42.553 ; max long: -122.607; max lat: 71.301 ;

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