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Agriculture was first introduced to the Tucson Basin of Arizona during the Formative period (also known as the Early Agricultural period) around 2000 BC. During the Classic period (AD 750–950), the later Hohokam people developed large-scale riverine irrigation systems. Despite the size and numbers of excavations that have been conducted at Hohokam sites, it is still unclear when the Hohokam developed a sedentary lifestyle and the degree to which they impacted the environment around them. One way to answer these questions is to look at the effects of human activity on animals, particularly whether anthropogenic environmental changes established new ecological niches for populations of small mammals; with this in mind, I measured remains of the genus Lepus (the jackrabbit) from the Marana mound, a Classic period Hohokam site, and compared this to a data set from Las Capas, a Formative period site also located in the Tucson Basin, to see if or how human-caused environmental changes affected the size of the jackrabbit. Jackrabbits are generally smaller and/or more variable in size in the later period, suggesting that the human impact on the local environment depressed the size of rabbits (either through poorer habitat or over-hunting) and that jackrabbits variety of microenvironments as hunting areas expanded to feed larger villages.

Publication Date

4-2016

Disciplines

Anthropology

The Impacts of Agriculture on Small Mammals in Prehistoric Southern Arizona

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