Interpreting abundance indices: some zooarchaeological implications of Martu foraging

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Publication Type journal article
School or College College of Social & Behavioral Science
Department Anthropology
Research Institute Stanford University
Creator Codding, Brian F.
Other Author Bird, Douglas W.; Bird, Rebecca Bliege
Title Interpreting abundance indices: some zooarchaeological implications of Martu foraging
Date 2010-07-20
Description Indices of taxonomic abundance are commonly used by zooarchaeologists to examine resource inten sification, overexploitation and gender divisions in foraging labor. The original formulation of abundance indices developed a clear interpretive framework by linking the measure with foraging models from behavioral ecology. However, using the same basic tenets of behavioral ecology, archaeologists disagree about how to interpret variability in abundance index values: some suggest that high proportions of large prey remains represent higher overall foraging efficiency, while others argue the opposite. To help solve this problem, we use quantitative observational data with Martu hunters in Australia's Western Desert to examine how foraging decisions and outcomes best predict variation in the abundance index values that result We show that variation in the proportional remains of large to small game is best predicted by hunting bout success with larger prey and the time spent foraging for smaller prey. A declining abundance index results from decreasing hunting success with larger prey, increasing time invested in hunting smaller prey, or both; any of which result in a lower overall return rate than if large prey were acquired reliably. We also demonstrate that where large prey acquisition is stochastic, high index values are correlated positively with men's proportional caloric contribution of large unreliable game, while low index values are correlated with women's proportional foraging time for small reliable game. We discuss these results with reference to evidence of resource intensification and gender specific foraging.
Type Text
Publisher University of Utah
Journal Title Journal of Archeological Science
Volume 37
Issue 12
First Page 3200
Last Page 3210
DOI 10.1016/j.jas.2010.07.020
Subject Human behavioral ecology; Zooarchaeology; Ethnoarchaeology; Resource intensification; Gender division of labor; Western Australia
Language eng
Rights Management (c)Journal of Archeological Science
Format Medium application/pdf
Format Extent 626,715 Bytes
Identifier uspace/id/10741
ARK ark:/87278/s6tq99nv
Setname ir_uspace
Date Created 2014-11-24
Date Modified 2021-05-06
ID 712728
Reference URL
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