Using Quantitative Methods to Assess Network Change in Coupled Human/Natural Systems

Author(s): Stefani Crabtree

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "Novel Statistical Techniques in Archaeology I (QUANTARCH I)" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

Our understanding of the dynamics and stability of human systems cannot be uncoupled from their environmental and ecological contexts. Archaeological knowledge can deeply inform, enhance and transform our understanding of socio-ecological dynamics and sustainability, if we can only quantitatively assess these interactions. One of the biggest challenges, aside from compiling the databases, is assessing if changes in network structure are statistically significant. We develop a computational framework for embedding archaeological populations within ecosystems, for assessing the changes that humans wrought on ecosystems, and for assessing the statistical significance of these changes. We recreate networks of interaction between humans and other species, then simulate random networks based on empirical parameters. Our random models employ a Monte Carlo simulation extending an Erdös-Renyi randomization process creating random networks that maintain the trophic structure of the human-centered network (known as the Niche Model). This approach is novel in archaeology as it helps to examine the statistical significance of observed network phenomena and is an important method for increasing confidence in our results. This method is also novel in ecology as most ecosystem networks ignore humans; by combining rich archaeological data and ecological methods we can develop a more robust understanding of coupled human/natural systems.

Cite this Record

Using Quantitative Methods to Assess Network Change in Coupled Human/Natural Systems. Stefani Crabtree. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451184)

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24714