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Ecosystem controls and the archaeofaunal record: an example from the Wyoming Basin, USA
- Byers, David A., Smith, Craig S.
- TheHolocene 2007 v.17 no.8 pp. 1171-1183
- Antilocapra americana, Holocene epoch, Lagomorpha, basins, bison, climate change, ecosystems, foraging, game animals, humans, mesic conditions, models, paleoecology, prediction, rodents, Wyoming
- Regional palaeoenvironmental reconstructions and data on artiodactyl response to climate change suggest that large game densities would have expanded in response to increasingly mesic conditions during the late Holocene in the Wyoming Basin. We use the prey model of foraging theory to predict late-Holocene increases in artiodactyls, relative to lagomorphs and rodents, and more specifically in bison relative to pronghorn. This prediction is then tested against 284 dated archaeofaunas from the Wyoming Basin. Close fits are found between the deductively derived prediction and the empirical records. Although artiodactyls demonstrate a general increasing trend across the most recent 5000 years, during the period of most intense human occupation hunting pressure appears to have depressed large game populations.