Climatic Controls on Prehistoric Utah Populations


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Recognizing how climate variability altered the landscape in regards to nutrient availability is a key aspect in reconstructing how prehistoric peoples were able to thrive. Further, understanding how past climate and environmental change affected organisms is important for predicting the role of imminent future climate change on populations today. Previous research found mammal populations during the Holocene fluctuated directly with climate variability in accordance with the availability of edible resources. This study provides a record of climatic controls, particularly precipitation, on past human populations in the Bonneville Basin. Utilizing pollen data from Utah’s Blue Lake as a proxy of environment in the Bonneville Basin, and the "dates as data" approach to account for human population, we are able to explore the interplay between climate and human population growth for the past 12000 years. We predict during the Holocene, periods of increased moisture were more conducive to consistent sustainable food sources, and thus human populations would have been able to expand. As predicted, our results indicate a significant correlation between precipitation and population density: when more arid-adapted taxa dominate the pollen record, human population densities are low, and vice versa.

Cite this Record

Climatic Controls on Prehistoric Utah Populations. Roxanne Lebenzon, Elic Weitzel, Isaac A. Hart, Brian Codding. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449627)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -124.189; min lat: 31.803 ; max long: -105.469; max lat: 43.58 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 26178