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Reduced population variance in strontium isotope values informs domesticated turkey use at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, USA

March 1, 2016

Traditionally strontium isotopes (87Sr/86Sr) have been used as a sourcing tool in numerous archaeological artifact classes. The research presented here demonstrates that 87Sr/86Srbioapatite ratios also can be used at a population level to investigate the presence of domesticated animals and methods of management. The proposed methodology combines ecology, isotope geochemistry, and behavioral ecology to assess the presence and nature of turkey (Meleagris gallopavo) domestication. This case study utilizes 87Sr/86Srbioapatite ratios from teeth and bones of archaeological turkey, deer (Odocoileus sp.), lagomorph (Lepus sp. and Sylvilagus sp.), and prairie-dog (Cynomys sp.) from Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, U.S.A. (ca. A.D. 800 – 1250). Wild deer and turkey from the southwestern U.S.A. have much larger home ranges and dispersal behaviors (measured in kilometers) when compared to lagomorphs and prairie dogs (measured in meters). Hunted deer and wild turkey from archaeological contexts at Chaco Canyon are expected to have a higher variance in their 87Sr/86Srbioapatite ratios, when compared to small range taxa (lagomorphs and prairie dogs). Contrary to this expectation, 87Sr/86Srbioapatite values of turkey bones from Chacoan assemblages have a much lower variance than deer and are similar to that of smaller mammals. The sampled turkey values show variability most similar to lagomorphs and prairie dogs, suggesting the turkeys from Chaco Canyon were consuming a uniform diet and/or were constrained within a limited home range, indicating at least proto-domestication. The population approach has wide applicability for evaluating the presence and nature of domestication when combined with paleoecology and behavioral ecology in a variety of animals and environments.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2016
Title Reduced population variance in strontium isotope values informs domesticated turkey use at Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, USA
DOI 10.1007/s10816-014-9228-5
Authors Deanna N Grimstead, Amanda C Reynolds, Adam M Hudson, Nancy J Akins, Julio L. Betancourt
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory
Series Number
Index ID 70186186
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Research Program - Eastern Branch

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