Proposal title: "Phytolith analysis as a paleoecological proxy when examining bison anatomical and behavioral changes in the Great Plains"
Location: 327 Murray Hall (Keso Room)
The demise of mammoths, during the terminal Pleistocene extinction event, thrust bison into a role as both the keystone herbivore of the Great Plains grasslands and the most important prey resource for the established human populations. Since the end of the Pleistocene, the genus Bison underwent significant anatomical and behavioral changes. This study examines opal phytoliths embedded in dental calculus of prehistoric bison specimens as proxy for reconstructing environmental context of anatomical and behavioral changes underwent by the Great Plains bison since the terminal Pleistocene. The strategy includes comparing prehistoric phytolith assemblages with those of modern bison in various types of grasslands. The paleo-bison examined were sourced from the Beaver River Bison Hunting Complex, the Ravenscroft II Bison Kill Site, in Oklahoma, and the Folsom Site, in New Mexico. This research aims to quantify the temporal and spatial differences between kill sites looking at bison behavioral ecology and their use of the available forage.
Note: All OSU faculty, staff, and students are welcome to attend the presentation and discussion of the proposal (including asking questions) but will be dismissed prior to committee deliberations.