Fauna and Frontiersmen: Environmental Change in Historic Maine

Author(s): Megan D. Postemski

Year: 2017


Contemporary landscapes represent the accumulation of past human activity and changes in environmental composition. In the case of Maine, however, dense forests largely conceal the once agrarian landscape. To unravel the complex history of Maine lands, I consider how pioneer perceptions and activities (e.g., settlement, cultivation, or hunting) since the seventeenth century impacted and changed the "nature" of the frontier. Focusing on fauna in particular, I examine historical accounts to clarify how frontiersmen contributed to animal abundance, scarcity, and extinction. Documents indicate that pioneers, inspired by notions of a tamed, fruitful frontier, initially expunged predators (e.g., wolverines or wolves) from the landscape, and decimated typical prey populations (e.g., deer or caribou). Later, conservation efforts (among other factors) caused populations to fluctuate further. Tracing the evolution of Maine’s environment through the historic period, my project highlights how anthropogenic landscape changes endure. It also complements and provides context for future archaeological work. 

Cite this Record

Fauna and Frontiersmen: Environmental Change in Historic Maine. Megan D. Postemski. Presented at Society for Historical Archaeology, Fort Worth, TX. 2017 ( tDAR id: 435475)

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Temporal Keywords
17th - 19th century

Spatial Coverage

min long: -129.199; min lat: 24.495 ; max long: -66.973; max lat: 49.359 ;

Record Identifiers

PaperId(s): 516