The Pleistocene Extinction Debate and Cross-disciplinary Communication

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 16 May, 2013 - 19:10 to 19:30
NAGAOKA, Lisa - University of North Texas

Research areas that self-identify as inter-/multi-disciplinary have often targeted audiences that span several disciplines.  However, communicating across disciplinary boundaries can be challenging.  For example, research on the megafaunal extinction in North America, Australia and elsewhere has typically been the domain of archaeology and paleontology.  Two hypotheses, anthropogenic versus climatic, dominate the literature and the ongoing debate.  Within the past twenty years, however, other disciplines have taken an interest in these extinctions.  In particular, ecologists promote overkill (human hunting) as the cause for the extinctions, using it as an example of catastrophic anthropogenic impacts.  In this paper I examine how the misappropriation of the megafaunal extinction debate is likely related to the disciplinary culture of the consumers.  Thus, researchers striving to exchange ideas beyond their traditional disciplinary borders should take an "anthropological" approach to communication if they want their research to be used appropriately.