The Effects of Climate Change and Risk on the Foraging-Farming Transition in North America

Author(s): Melissa Torquato

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.

The evolution of the Homo lineage is characterized by the emergence of numerous biological and cultural traits. One behavioral trait is the transition from foraging to farming. Some scholars suggest that climate change contributed to the emergence of agriculture while others hypothesize that continually increasing foraging risk caused the independent development of agricultural subsistence. No study has examined the connections between climate change and foraging risk or the effects of foraging risk on the foraging-farming transition. This study evaluates the effects of climate change and foraging risk as potential explanations underlying the foraging-farming transition in North America during the Late Archaic period (4500-4000 BP). In this study, my previous research reconstructing the paleoenvironment and assessing dietary variation throughout the transition period is combined with species distribution models, which model the geographic distributions of relevant prey species. This study estimates the availability of prehistoric resources and compares the expected and observed diets to quantify foraging risk. The quantification of foraging risk and the examination of its connection to climate change is a novel approach for studying the foraging-farming transition. These methods offer a more complete understanding of the regional foraging-farming transition and have implications for the global trend towards agriculture.

Cite this Record

The Effects of Climate Change and Risk on the Foraging-Farming Transition in North America. Melissa Torquato. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 451189)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -103.975; min lat: 36.598 ; max long: -80.42; max lat: 48.922 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 24493