Resource Depression at the Eagle's Ridge Site: Implications of the Behavioral Ecology of White-tailed Deer

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 12 April, 2012 - 18:10 to 18:30
Wolverton, Steve - University of North Texas, Dept. Geography
Nagaoka, Lisa - University of North Texas, Dept. Geography

Behavioral depression is a decline in prey because of enhanced alert response, migration from areas, increased social behavior, and other responses to predators that may explain a decrease in hunting efficiency by humans over time. Gregarious ungulates, such as many cervids, may exhibit such behavioral responses under predation. The white-tailed deer, one of the most common high-rank prey animals from Holocene archaeological sites in eastern North America, is less gregarious, more r-selected, and exhibits greater home-range fidelity than other cervids. As a result, whitetails are less likely to exhibit behavioral depression than other North American ungulates, which may explain their common occurrence in Holocene archaeological faunas, such as that from the Eagle’s Ridge site in Texas where resource depression appears to have occurred from 4,500 to 1,500 years ago. The behavioral ecology of ungulate species should be considered on a case-by-case basis to develop testable hypotheses about prehistoric human predation.