Traditional images of food webs depict a diverse set of species, from plants and herbivores to predators and parasites, with directional lines of interaction — who eats whom. Despite a growing awareness that humans are intrinsically linked to our environments and ecosystems, we rarely show up on these datasets, images, or analyses.
SFI Professor and Vice President for Science Jennifer Dunne and visiting researcher Stefani Crabtree, a Fellow at the Center for Research and Interdisciplinarity in Paris, France, have been working to understand how humans across the globe utilized other species in the past, not just through feeding but through myriad other interactions. Their ArcheoEcology Project is the first to compile this kind of comprehensive data from multiple pre-modern cultures to figure out how humans fit into and impacted complex ecological networks.
Dunne, Crabtree, and their colleagues will present their work in two back-to-back symposia, “How Human Interactions with Biodiversity Shape Socio-Ecological Dynamics in Deep Time” on Sunday, Feb. 17 at 1:30 and 3:30 pm at the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Washington, D.C.
The talks and presentations will cover new results from five well-studied systems includ- ing aboriginal foragers in Australia, ancestral Puebloans in the American southwest, First Nations people of the Pacific Northwest coast, South Pacific island Polynesians, and North Atlantic island Norse people. By integrating and exploring a large body of anthropological and archaeological knowledge about past systems where we know socio-ecological trajectories and outcomes, we can better understand commonalities and differences in a coupled natural-human systems’ resilience, sustainability, and robustness.