The Rosa-Keystone Dunes Field: The geoarchaeology and paleoecology of a late Quaternary stabilized dune field in Eastern Beringia

Joshua D. Reuther, Ben A. Potter, Charles E. Holmes, James K. Feathers, François B. Lanoë, Jennifer Kielhofer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Stabilized sand sheets and dunes hold a remarkable amount of information on paleoenvironmental conditions under which late Quaternary landscapes evolved in northern subarctic regions. We provide the results of a project focused on understanding the development of lowland environments and ecosystems, including dunes and sand sheets, which were critical habitat for early human occupations in subarctic regions. Our study area is the Rosa-Keystone Dunes Field in the Shaw Creek Flats of the middle Tanana River basin, interior Alaska, one of the oldest continuously occupied areas in North America (14,000 cal. BP to present). The disturbance regimes of reactivated dunes and associated forest fire cycles between 12,500 and 8800 cal. BP fostered a unique early to mid-successional mixed vegetation community including herbaceous tundra, shrubs, and deciduous trees. This environment provided key habitats for large grazers and browsers, significant resources for early hunter-gatherer populations in central Alaska. After 8000 cal. BP, the expansion of black spruce and peatlands heightened landscape stability but decreased the range of local habitat for large grazers. Hunter-gatherer economic change during these periods is consistent with human responses to local and regional landscape disturbance and restructuring.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1939-1953
Number of pages15
JournalHolocene
Volume26
Issue number12
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016

Keywords

  • Eastern Beringia
  • hunter-gatherers
  • paleoecology
  • sand dunes
  • Shaw Creek Flats
  • subarctic interior Alaska

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Archaeology
  • Ecology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Palaeontology

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