The energetic return rates of many small animal and plant resources are often density dependent. When these resources are collected in mass, change in abundance can dramatically affect diet rank, and challenges the assumption that return rates are generally correlated with body size. When mass collecting is employed, as a result of either natural events (e.g. windrows) or technological developments (e.g. nets), population density may largely determine the overall return rate for a resource. Since a single food or resource type can be many prey types, an increase in the abundance of a food resource can change its diet rank. We examined this relationship at Lakeside Cave in northwestern Utah, and discovered that when the abundance of grasshoppers is high, and mass collecting is productive, the hunting of bighorn sheep and other large animal resources may have been abandoned, contradicting commonly held assumptions about prey size. In archaeological situations it may be necessary to determine what foraging technique was used before assuming that the presence of small animals and fish in the diet is a result of reduced foraging efficiency. ?? 1998 Academic Press Limited.
Additional publication details
Mass collecting and the diet breadth model: A Great Basin example