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Applications of Rat Bone Collagen Stable Isotope Analysis towards Investigating Long-term Island Socio-ecosystem Dynamics: Case studies from Mangareva (French Polynesia) and Pemba Island (Zanzibar)

Author(s): Jillian Swift

Year: 2017

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Summary

Stable isotope analysis of small commensal fauna provides a novel approach to paleoecological reconstruction and investigations of human site activities. The human translocation of rat species, especially the black rat (Rattus rattus), brown rat (R. norvegicus), and Pacific rat (R. exulans), has significantly—and often deleteriously—impacted native floral and faunal communities, particularly within island ecosystems. Rats are small-bodied omnivores with limited home ranges and highly generalized diets, and thus can provide a localized picture of landscape change and resource availability. On small islands in particular, rat diet has proven sensitive to island-wide changes in ecosystem dynamics. This paper compares bone collagen carbon and nitrogen stable isotope data from two rat species (R. exulans and R. rattus) recovered from archaeological sites within two separate island regions (Mangareva Islands, French Polynesia and Pemba Island, Zanzibar). Results demonstrate the efficacy of rat diet as a paleoenvironmental proxy for investigating human-environment dynamics, including species extinctions and nutrient flows within human-centered food webs.


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Applications of Rat Bone Collagen Stable Isotope Analysis towards Investigating Long-term Island Socio-ecosystem Dynamics: Case studies from Mangareva (French Polynesia) and Pemba Island (Zanzibar). Jillian Swift. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431192)


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Spatial Coverage

min long: 111.973; min lat: -52.052 ; max long: -87.715; max lat: 53.331 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 16771

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