Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Sociology, Social Work, and Anthropology


Jacob Freeman


Judson Byrd Finley

Third Advisor:

Patricia Lambert


I conduct the first comparative analysis of long term human population stability in North America. Questions regarding population stability among animals and plants are fundamental to population ecology, yet no anthropological research has addressed human population stability. This is an important knowledge gap, because a species’ population stability can have implications for its risk of extinction and for the stability of the ecological community in which it lives. I use archaeological and paleoclimatological data to compare long term population stability with subsistence strategy and climate stability over 6,000 years. I conduct my analysis on a large scale to better understand general trends between population stability, subsistence strategy, and climate stability. I found that agricultural sequences fluctuate less than hunter-gatherer sequences in general, but they also experience rare, extreme population swings not seen among hunter-gatherers. I suggest that agriculturalists are more vulnerable to population collapses because of their increased population densities. I found that population stability shows a weak relationship with climate stability. Climate stability may have an indirect effect on long-term population stability.



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