Late Quaternary paleoecology in the Bonneville basin (B-130)

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Paleontology and Paleoecology

By: D. B. Madsen

The work reported here is part of an extended study of paleoenvironmental change and human adaptation in the deserts of western Utah. This research, involving both archaeological excavations and the recovery of strictly paleoecological materials, is loosely grouped under the rubric of The Silver Island Expedition, since much of the work has been conducted in the vicinity of the Silver Island Mountains along the western margin of the Great Salt Lake Desert. The paleoecological aspects of the project, presented primarily in this volume, have two separate but related purposes. First, understanding both the diversity and similarity of human adaptation through space and time is only possible within the context of the larger biotic communities of which people are a part. Since the more than 12,000-year history of people in the deserts of the eastern Great Basin spans a prolonged period of profound environmental change, understanding the nature of that change is critical to understanding human behavior and adaptation in the region. For that reason, much of the archaeological research conducted under the umbrella of the Silver Island Expedition and funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, the Utah Division of Water Resources, and the U.S. Department of Defense has had a significant paleoecological component geared towards clarifying the environmental context within which people act.

Second, modern ecosystems are a part of a continuum of change in terms of both composition and distribution, and understanding the nature and trajectory of that change is critical to those charged with the responsibility of managing these ecosystems in an appropriate fashion. Resource managers are managing change, not stasis, and an adequate explanation of how and why that change occurs is a necessary component of any management strategy. For that reason, much of the paleoecological research conducted as part of the Silver Island Expedition, and funded by land management agencies, has been oriented toward the definition of a detailed environmental record and the impact that human populations have had in shaping that record.

Other Information:
Published: 2000
Pages: 190 p.
Location: Box Elder, Millard, and Tooele Counties
Media Type: Paper Publication

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