Barn Owl (Tyto alba) Pellets as Environmental Proxies


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

Non-cultural deposits and animal accumulations have been important for reconstructing past environmental conditions. In western North America, packrat middens have been analyzed to infer past vegetation communities, precipitation rates, and other environmental variables. In this poster, we analyze owl-generated pellets deposited over a 1,500-year period at Barn Owl Cave, Santa Barbara Island. The goal of this study is to determine whether these deposits can be used to infer past environments based on the proportional abundance and types of prey species found at the site through time. Age and size profiles and statistical analysis of prey mice were calculated for deposits dated to the protracted drought of the Medieval Climate Anomaly and the appreciably cooler and wetter Little Ice Age. We predict that our results will 1) reveal greater densities of younger mice during periods of increased precipitation; 2) lower densities of mice during drought cycles; 3) greater percentage of adult mice during periods of drought; and 4) prey switching from mice to sea birds and lizards during dry conditions.

Cite this Record

Barn Owl (Tyto alba) Pellets as Environmental Proxies. Santos Ceniceros-Rodríguez, Paul Collins, Amira Ainis, René Vellanoweth. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450279)

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Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 26170