Challenges and Prospects of Richness and Diversity Measures in Paleoethnobotany
This is an abstract from the "Defining and Measuring Diversity in Archaeology" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.
The measurement of the richness and diversity of archaeological plant remains recovered from sites is an essential, if not always explicitly recognized, aspect of paleoethnobotanical practice and interpretation. The range of different recovered plant taxa can be indicative of routes of taphonomic entry, diet breadth, local responses to social or environmental disturbance, and other aspects of human lifeways. This paper will identify the prospects and challenges of the utilization of existing richness and diversity measures developed in the biological/ecological sciences for paleoethnobotanical inquiry. Discussion is focused on re-sampling methods such as sample- and individual-based rarefaction. The theoretical challenges of identifying the relationship of the measured assemblage to the actual plants that were used or consumed is outlined. The strengths and weaknesses of existing implementations in the open-source statistical programming platform R are discussed. The paper advocates for a more rigorous incorporation of statistical methods developed in the biological/ecological sciences into standard paleoethnobotanical practice, but with consideration of the aspects that are unique to these data and their collection.
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Challenges and Prospects of Richness and Diversity Measures in Paleoethnobotany. Alan Farahani, Reuven Sinensky. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 450519)
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Abstract Id(s): 23816