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Effects of cultivation on tuber and starch granule morphometrics of Solanum jamesii and implications for interpretation of the archaeological record
- Herzog, Nicole M., Louderback, Lisbeth A., Pavlik, Bruce M.
- Journal of archaeological science 2018 v.98 pp. 1-6
- Solanum jamesii, archaeology, indigenous peoples, indigenous species, morphometry, potatoes, starch granules, tubers, Southwestern United States
- Plant species native to the American southwest may have been cultivated by indigenous people, but techniques to assess the extent, timing, and impacts of early manipulation are lacking. Herein we apply morphometric techniques to tubers and starch granules of the Four Corners potato, (Solanum jamesii Torrey) to determine if cultivation, even over a relatively short period of time, can be detected. When compared to wild source plants, cultivated plants produced significantly larger tubers and starch granules. We suggest that, in concert with other archaeological and/or ecological data, microbotanical data may aid in identifying modifications to plant food resources related to strategic shifts from wild harvest to cultivation in the American west.