Increasingly, we employ molecular tools to investigate the population dynamics of non-human organisms (e.g., human prey or plant species, including early domesticates) as an analog to infer human resource procurement strategies and to explore the effect of prehistoric human hunting on prey population dynamics. Currently, graduate student Kelly Beck, with faculty members Jack Broughton, Alan Rogers and O’Rourke, is examining the changing patterns of genetic variation over time in Tule elk populations from the Emeryville Shellmound in the eastern San Francisco Bay and Guadalupe fur seals from San Miguel Island, the northernmost of California’s Channel Islands. The goal of the research is to investigate the role of human hunting activity on the demographic history of diverse prey species in different environments. During his stay in the lab, former graduate student Jake Enk published his study of mtDNA sequence variation in the youngest mammoth known (from the Pribilof Islands) in conjunction with collaborators at the University of Alaska, Anchorage. Graduate student Michelle Knoll is studying genetic variation in ancient corn excavated from archaeological sites in southern Utah and surrounding regions of the Colorado Plateau to investigate the migration of early farming technology, and perhaps early farmers, in the region.
Guadalupe Fur Seal (Arctocephalus townsendi )
Tule Elk (Cervus elaphus nannodes) at San Luis National Wildlife RefugeLab Home