Human Transformation of California: Botany, History, and Sociology
Preston, William .
The management of animals by Native Californians.
THERE is little doubt that Native Californians modified their resource environments prior to, during, and after the Colonial Period. Most of the research addressing this topic has emphasized the conscious management of vegetation with little or no attention given to animals. These investigators have generally reasoned that the enhancement of floral communities by native peoples raised the carrying capacity for a variety of fauna and thus augmented the overall resource bounty. This paper takes exception to this general assumption and will argue that it was necessary for Native Californians to consciously reduce and locally eliminate a wide spectrum of animal species in order to successfully manipulate and harvest their floral resources. Furthermore, it is unlikely that accepted native land-use practices would have been possible in the wildlife setting described for California during the Colonial period. Indeed, the relationship between Native Californians and wildlife observed during this period was a reflection of foreign disruption and an aberration to late Holocene norms. These assertions will be supported by historical, archaeological, and biological evidence that also suggests that the Native Californians were both the top predators and keystone species in the state during Pre-Columbian times.
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1 - California Polytechnic State University, Social Sciences, San Luis Obispo, California, 93407, USA
Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Date: Tuesday, August 1st, 2006
Time: 2:45 PM