Applied paleozoology and biogeography : four case studies from Missouri
Numerous zooarchaeological studies have attempted to connect modern conservation issues to evidence of human - animal interactions in the past. By utilizing a geodatabase based on archaeological and paleontological site records gathered from FAUNMAP and the Missouri State Historic Office, a method is developed that allows paleozoological data to be used to assist modern conservation biology through biogeographic range reconstruction and historic landcover associations. This project reconstructs the precontact ranges of four mammalian species: river otter (Lontra canadensis), elk (Cervus elaphus), eastern spotted skunk (Spilogale putorius), and black- and white-tailed jackrabbits (Lepus californicus and Lepus townsendii). The paleozoological presences of these species are compared to the species' modern ranges to provide baseline/benchmark information to wildlife managers and conservation biologists charged with protection and management. Cluster analysis identified clusters of archaeological sites and surveys in Missouri associated with municipalities, federal land (Mark Twain National Forest), and water. By demonstrating the nature of the non-random archaeological survey conducted in Missouri, the presence of the species of interest can be used to reconstruct prehistoric ranges within the context of available data. Elk, river otter and eastern spotted skunk were found across the state in areas where sites with fauna are located. Jackrabbits, although a limited presence, were found in areas that are farther east in Missouri than the modern range for the taxa. Along with range reconstruction, historic vegetation landcover, based on GLO survey data, is used to identify habitat preferences based on the location of sites with fauna of interest.
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