PUBLIC LECTURE: How Can an Archaeologist Contribute to Biodiversity Conservation?
|How Can an Archaeologist Contribute to Biodiversity Conservation?
A public lecture by Professor R. Lee Lyman, Department of Anthropology, University of Missouri, Columbia and UWA Institute of Advanced Studies Visiting Fellow.
All animals die, and many are eaten by predators. If the predators include humans, owls, or carnivores (e.g., Dingoes), skeletal remains of the prey may be deposited in a shelter used by the predator, such as a cave, and preserved for thousands of years. Such an ‘archive’ is an important source of information on past faunas, typically used to reconstruct past environments or investigate the subsistence practices of prehistoric peoples. But the data provided by palaeozoological remains can be used for so much more.
Palaeozoological data represent the results of long-term biological, ecological and evolutionary processes, including many natural ‘experiments’. Numerous questions of importance to conservation biologists can be answered using palaeozoological data: Is a species exotic/non-native, or is it native to an area? Is a species invasive or is it re-colonizing an area it previously occupied? Is the presence, absence, or abundance of a species the result of anthropogenic, or natural, causes? What might be the effects of translocation/assisted migration efforts focused on supplementing a depleted local population? Is one stock more appropriate than another for providing individuals that are to be reintroduced to a particular area? Will a planned modern development project disrupt a seasonal migration route used by animals for millennia? Palaeozoological data for mammals in western North America exemplify answers to all of these questions, and demonstrate the value to biodiversity conservation of information from archaeological (and palaeontological) investigations.
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