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Prehistoric Agricultural Ecosystems: Avifauna from Pottery Mound, New Mexico

Steven D. Emslie
American Antiquity
Vol. 46, No. 4 (Oct., 1981), pp. 853-861
DOI: 10.2307/280111
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/280111
Page Count: 9
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Prehistoric Agricultural Ecosystems: Avifauna from Pottery Mound, New Mexico
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Abstract

Excavations at Pottery Mound, a large Pueblo ruin located on the banks of the Rio Puerco in New Mexico, have recovered over 4,000 bird bones representing 50 species. The habitats of these birds include grassland, marshland, canal- and riverbank, Pinyon-juniper forest, and coniferous forest. Instead of attributing this diversity to changing climate or long-distance hunting expeditions away from the pueblo, I employ the "garden hunting" model, which ascribes increased species biomass to areas of human disturbance. At Pottery Mound prehistoric agricultural fields increased insect populations and provided wild and cultivated seeds which attracted a variety of birds. Additionally, irrigation canals extended riparian growth from the river across the floodplain creating more available cover for predators. This ecotone effect allowed avian species to increase beyond their normal numbers and diversity in undisturbed areas. All 50 species at Pottery Mound could have been obtained within a small radius of the site.

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