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Molecular Zooarchaeology of California Tule Elk

This research project reconstructs trends through time in elk genetic diversity, extracted, amplified, and sequenced from ancient tule elk DNA from the Emereyville Shellmound (CA-ALA-309) and the King Brown site (CA-SAC-29) to test the hypothesis that human hunters caused a population bottleneck in this largest ungulate on the Califonia landscape. A pilot study shows that DNA is well-preserved in the Emeryville elk materials and provides provisional evidence for a late Holocene population bottleneck. Stable isotope analysis from the same bones provide no indication that climate change was associated with the elk decline. This collaborative project joins the expertise of five members of Utah's Department of Anthropology: Jack Broughton, R. Kelly Beck, Alan Rogers, Dennis O'Rourke, and Joan Coltrain.

Last Updated: 11/28/16