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Over Uplands and Across Valleys: A Test of Ideal Free Distribution Predictions for Human Settlement during the Terminal Pleistocene/Early Holocene in the Northwestern Great Basin, USA
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I explore human settlement patterns in the northwestern Great Basin during the terminal Pleistocene/early Holocene (TP/EH) (~16,000-8300 cal BP) using the ideal free distribution (IFD) model. I rank four basins using two suitability proxies: (1) a caloric resource abundance estimate; and (2) a resource return rate estimate. Both are based on common plants and animals found in the Great Basin. The settlement chronology for the region comes from time-sensitive Western Stemmed Tradition (WST) points. The results indicate that sagebrush steppe and upland environments were the environmental zones most influencing habitat suitability at the scale of prominent basins, even though most WST sites are found in wetland and riparian zones. These contrasting findings provide evidence that there may have been division of labor among hunter-gatherers in the northwestern Great Basin as early as the Younger Dryas and into the early Holocene.