Zooarchaeological Evidence of Human Niche Construction at Cottonwood Spring Pueblo (LA 175)

Author(s): Kristin Corl

Year: 2016


Cottonwood Spring Pueblo (LA 175), an El Paso Phase (A.D. 1275-1450) horticultural village in southern New Mexico is one of the largest pueblos in the region. Understanding what animal communities were included in the subsistence strategies people living in this village used will aid in understanding strategies that people relied upon to support a large population in the Northern Chihuahuan Desert. Were prey animals (such as desert cottontails, black-tailed jackrabbits, whitetail deer, mule deer, smaller rodents, or birds) hunted in microenvironments created through various categories of human niche construction? Zooarchaeological data and relative taxonomic abundance revealed three targeted taxonomic groups; rabbits, deer, and rodents. Ethnographic evidence shows that populations of these taxonomic groups increase with the expansion of cultivated fields and other human-disturbed environments. Use of stable carbon isotopes found in lagomorph bones provides a robust measure of the environment jackrabbits and cottontails are living in by measuring what plants were incorporated into their diet. Results show that the increased C4 values found in cottontails is evidence that the environment surrounding the pueblo had been modified compared to the larger ecosystem. This evidence suggests targeting of certain species through various intensities of human niche construction.

Cite this Record

Zooarchaeological Evidence of Human Niche Construction at Cottonwood Spring Pueblo (LA 175). Kristin Corl. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405055)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;