Crabtree, Stefani A.; Jennifer A. Dunne and Spencer A. Wood

While environmental reconstruction has been a staple in the study of past societies, underused tools from ecology, such as food webs, can enable a more thorough understanding of the human place within ecosystems. Drawing on two recent studies, this article describes the types of questions that can be addressed using this approach. The authors demonstrate how food webs that include archaeological data can provide insights into the effects of extinctions, invasion and ecosystem change on communities, and can address key questions of the structure and dynamics of past societies. This article highlights examples of best practice for the compilation of archaeo-ecological networks, and suggest ways of developing a synthetic understanding of past environments.