Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Sociology and Anthropology

Department name when degree awarded

Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology

Committee Chair(s)

David A. Byers


David A. Byers


Judson Byrd Finley


Jacob Freeman


This thesis aims to integrate the study of population change with the expectations of foraging models, and to test whether expectations resulting from integrating these two bodies of theory have greater predictive power than foraging models alone. To compare these models, I monitored prey age, butchery practice, and prey desirability in five prehistoric occupations of the Birch Creek rockshelters of Idaho. I modeled hunting pressure with a human population density estimate based on radiocarbon dates from Idaho archaeological sites, and modeled prey abundance with a model of historic effective moisture. Both models predicted younger prey, lower average prey desirability, and more intensive extraction of nutrients from prey when human hunting pressure is high and when prey are scarce. However, unlike the prey model, the Forager-resource Population Ecology (FPE) model predicts that similarly desirable prey with different reproductive rates should show different degrees of resilience to hunting pressure. Contrary to FPE model predictions, statistical analyses of the Birch Creek faunal materials did not indicate that human hunting pressure disproportionately stressed populations of slowly reproducing prey compared to quicker-reproducing prey. While the faunal specimens from Birch Creek provided a limited and flawed dataset, my results did not support the use of the FPE model.