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Using the Past: Application of archaeological collections to Climate Change Eugene Marino USFWS Service Archaeologist.

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Presentation on theme: "Using the Past: Application of archaeological collections to Climate Change Eugene Marino USFWS Service Archaeologist."— Presentation transcript:

1 Using the Past: Application of archaeological collections to Climate Change Eugene Marino USFWS Service Archaeologist

2 Zooarchaeology For decades Archaeologists have captured information from animal remains recovered from archaeological sites This information has been used to better understand what resources were being exploited by indigenous communities It has also been used to comment on the environmental conditions of the site, temperature changes through time, presence/absence of certain species.

3 The presence of certain kinds of animal remains on archaeological site can provide information on when the site was occupied or indicate an environmental change that occurred.

4 For instance, certain species have specific times that they give birth, such information can be used to establish a time line of occupation for the site Female white tailed deer for instance give birth in the spring. Noting whether deer bones are mature (fused ends) or immature (un-fused ends) can be an indicator of season that the site is being used.

5 Likewise another indicator of time of occupation would be tooth eruption. Archaeologists note the age of animals, like deer, to determine when a site was being occupied.

6 Understanding occupation of a site helps the archaeologist interpret the context of what is being observed It also helps clarify any environmental issues that may have been ‘recorded’ by the artifacts

7 For example the arrow in this picture points to a stratigraphic level whose contents (artifacts and chemicals in the soil) suggest period of drought in this area The archaeology is corroborated by hydrological data

8 Remains can then be examined to see if they have ‘recorded’ the stressor as well. Harris lines on long bones and linear enamel hypoplasias on teeth can be indicators of nutritional stress, which could be tied to environmental factors

9 With FWS emphasis on addressing climate change on Refuges and in using good science to make it happen, application of zooarchaeological materials as a data set to help answer climate change questions is a logical step.

10 FWS Natural Resource Center (NRC) zooarchaeology review – From August through October 2014 an intern reviewed FWS museum collections for those that contain zooarchaeological remains – FWS partnered with SCA to secure the intern for this project

11 The collections review found: – Zooarchaeological material from every Region – 66 Refuges or Hatcheries house materials – 41 Universities or Museums house materials for FWS – There are 1573 accession records associated with these materials – There are 110 reports with information on these collections – The greatest number of accession records are located in Regions 1, 3 and 5 – These records can be used to find and examine the actual remains – Most reports were noted in Regions 3 and 4

12 Next Steps 1.Provide the annotated bibliography to NRC for their use 1.These reports can be made available to researchers 2.Identify amount of pertinent materials (e.g., faunal and possibly and floral remains) at identified repositories.

13 Step 1 is available to NRC immediately. Step 2 is not. – Our biggest obstacle to facilitating Step 2, regrettably…. Access and condition of the collections

14 In an ideal world…. … finding and using any data set for any purpose should be easy to do However, for museum collections it is not that easy

15 In reality… ….curation of archaeological collections, for most federal agencies, has been a challenge Absent the ideal, you have to improve this condition in order to coax the full potential from the materials

16 To realize Step 2 we recommend NRC: Note overall condition of the materials (condition of containers, damage to materials) as well as any references not previously noted for the accession. Determine types of materials present (create a list of taxa) Identify collection needs with respect to accessibility (better housing and storage; data management) Identify most useful collections (those with the most material and references) for possible rehabilitation

17 The findings of this study suggest that Regions who have emphasized their collections have better data about those collections Region 3 has been actively researching its museum property, it follows that it had the best data for this study The more we know about our collections the more we can use what we know Museum collections can work for us.

18 Summary – FWS currently curates 4.2 million museum items. – 80% of those are archaeological in nature. – Faunal remains are one of the more ubiquitous archaeological material classes – Goal 5 of the climate change strategic plan notes an emphasis on monitoring and research partnerships – these partnership can and should consider non- traditional data sets such as faunal remains

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