Doctoral Dissertation Research: The Role of Mobility in Human-Environment Interactions

Project: Research project

Project Details


Cumulative environmental change is negatively impacting the sustainability of coastal communities. Archaeology provides a deep-time perspective into the impacts of climate change on human populations, as our species has coped with varying degrees of environmental change for most of our existence. This project seeks to investigate the relationship between settlement choice and environmental conditions in coastal foraging populations over the last 4000 years. This project will provide important insight into the interlinked social and environmental factors that affect settlement choices. By investigating community settlement choice in an area known for its extreme environmental conditions, we can better understand variability in human responses to environmental change. Clarifying the connection between human behavior and environmental change is vital, as environmental change impacts on livelihoods are intensifying. In addition to providing funding for the training of a graduate student in anthropology in the methods of empirical, scientific data collection and analysis, the methods proposed here will also assist communities in conserving their cultural heritage by systematically recording human activities on the landscape through time.

Three main questions are posed by this project: 1) How important are natural resources in human settlement choice? 2) Are major climate events accompanied by shifts in the distribution and density of settlements? and 3) Do social factors, such as community ties or networks, influence settlement patterns, and if so, to what degree? Using an automated remote sensing procedure, this project will systematically record archaeological deposits in this coastal foraging community and researchers will survey and excavate identified locations to establish site chronologies. Next, environmental conditions over the past several thousand years will be reconstructed using fossilized corals. Finally, these data will be incorporated into spatial statistical models to analyze the relationship between environmental conditions and settlement distributions over time. The project would advance archaeological knowledge about human-environment interactions, and the role of mobility in human adaptations to environmental change.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

Effective start/end date5/1/214/30/23


  • National Science Foundation: $31,556.00


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