Ghosts of Climates Past: Evaluating the Effects of Climate Change on the Foraging Ecology of Paleoindian Hunter-Gatherers in the North American Great Plains
Author(s): Erik R. Otárola-Castillo
The environment has a strong influence on the evolutionary ecology of hunter-gatherer foraging. Studies of prehistoric hunter-gatherers have often made hypotheses regarding the effect of climate on foraging strategies, but have rarely tested those hypotheses. The absence of explicit hypothesis testing has been partly due to a dearth of operationalized paleoenvironmental variables. Although paleoenvironmental reconstructions have been abundant, particularly those based on pollen, they have mostly been qualitative descriptions. This study demonstrates the usefulness of modern paleoenvironmental reconstruction techniques to test evolutionary hypotheses about the magnitude and direction of climate on North American Paleoindian hunter-gatherers’ foraging behavior. I used pollen assemblages from across the North American Great Plains and neighboring regions to reconstruct multiple paleoenvironmental variables – mean annual temperature, annual temperature seasonality, annual precipitation, and annual precipitation seasonality. Using spatio-temporal statistics, this study estimated paleoenvironmental variables during the Paleoindian period and in areas across the Great Plains. The results have important implications for the understanding of Paleoindian foraging and subsistence within the context of paleoclimatic and nutritional resource reconstruction. Specifically, this study reconciles current hypotheses regarding the influence of climate and ecological change on Paleoindian dietary strategies and discusses its potential as a mechanism driving micro-evolutionary consequences.
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Ghosts of Climates Past: Evaluating the Effects of Climate Change on the Foraging Ecology of Paleoindian Hunter-Gatherers in the North American Great Plains. Erik R. Otárola-Castillo. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443653)
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Abstract Id(s): 22086