Competition for Resources: How Commensal Competition Informs Us of Past Human Activity


Humans have a dramatic impact on environments around them. They augment, manipulate and engineer local environments to their own benefit, often resulting in a concentration of easily available food and nest sites. These anthropogenic resources and environments are readily exploited by a myriad of other organisms. These organisms, in local and neighbouring environments, engage in a range of different relationships with humans, reflecting the level of interaction and dependence. Due to the ubiquitous nature of some of these organisms and their sheer numbers, it is often assumed that humans provide a predictable and buffered environment, free from the normal annual cycles of resource availability and climate. However, this is a serious misconception, which can lead to a misunderstanding of the dynamics and intense competition experienced by organisms living within anthropogenic environments. A re-examination of human constructed environments illustrates why and how certain species survive, providing greater insights into how we impact organisms around us. Here we examine the evidence for (un)predictability in anthropogenic environments and competition in modern and ancient commensal species to identify the true nature of this relationship and what it reveals about the human past.

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Competition for Resources: How Commensal Competition Informs Us of Past Human Activity. Ardern Hulme-Beaman, Thomas Cucchi, Jeremy Searle, Keith Dobney. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443789)

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Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20780