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Dendrochronological dates confirm a Late Prehistoric population decline in the American Southwest derived from radiocarbon datesThe northern American Southwest provides one of the most well-documented cases of human population growth and decline in the world. The geographic extent of this decline in North America is unknown owing to the lack of high-resolution palaeodemographic data from regions across and beyond the greater Southwest, where archaeological radiocarbon data are often the only available proxy for investigating these palaeodemographic processes. Radiocarbon time series across and beyond the greater Southwest suggest widespread population collapses from AD 1300 to 1600. However, radiocarbon data have potential biases caused by variable radiocarbon sample preservation, sample collection and the nonlinearity of the radiocarbonmore »
Questions regarding population stability among animals and plants are fundamental to population ecology, yet this has not been a topic studied by archeologists focusing on prehistoric human populations. This is an important knowledge gap. The fluctuation of human populations over decades to centuries – population instability – may constrain the expansion of human economies. A first step toward describing basic patterns of population stability would be to identify sizes of fluctuations through time, since smaller fluctuations are more stable than larger fluctuations. We conduct a biogeographic analysis of the long-term stability of human societies in North America using a continentalmore »
Spatiotemporal Dynamics of Prehistoric Human Population Growth: Radiocarbon Dates as Data and Population Ecology Models.Archaeologists now routinely use summed radiocarbon dates as a measure of past population size, yet few have coupled these measures to theoretical expectations about social organization. To help move the ‘dates as data’ approach from description to explanation, this paper proposes a new integrative theory and method for quan- titative analyses of radiocarbon summed probability distributions (SPDs) in space. We present this new approach to ‘SPDs in space’ with a case study of 3571 geo-referenced radiocarbon dates from Wyoming, USA. We develop a SPD for the Holocene in Wyoming, then analyze the spatial distribution of the SPD as a functionmore »
We conduct a global comparison of the consumption of energy by human populations throughout the Holocene and statistically quantify coincident changes in the consumption of energy over space and time—an ecological phenomenon known as synchrony. When populations synchronize, adverse changes in ecosystems and social systems may cascade from society to society. Thus, to develop policies that favor the sustained use of resources, we must understand the processes that cause the synchrony of human populations. To date, it is not clear whether human societies display long-term synchrony or, if they do, the poten- tial causes. Our analysis begins to fill thismore »