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Does Size Matter? Body Size, Mass Collecting, and Their Implications for Understanding Prehistoric Foraging Behavior

  • Andrew Ugan (a1)

Abstract

Zooarchaeologists regularly assume a positive relationship between body size and energetic return rates among animal taxa. Some researchers question the validity of this assumption, suggesting that small animals collected in mass can provide high returns and pose interpretive problems for methods relying on a clear correlation. A review of empirical data shows that while large fish and invertebrates can provide high returns, those for most small animals remain very low. Differences appear to result from disparities in the relative energetic value of various taxa, costs associated with mass collection, and the efficiency with which resources are handled once acquired. Mass collection is unlikely to pose an interpretive problem under most circumstances, and the low returns for mass collecting many small animals have interesting implications for interpreting changes in their relative frequencies.

Résumé

Los zooarqueólogos regularmente asumen que existe una relación directa entre el tamaño y la tasa de rendimiento de energía de diferentes taxa de animales. Algunos investigadores dudan de la validez de esta suposición y sugieren que animales pequeños atrapados en grupos pueden proveer un alto rendimiento energético, provocando problemas interpretativos en los métodos basados en esta clara correlación. Una revisión de datos empíricos muestra que, aunque peces grandes e invertebrados pueden proveer altos rendimientos, los rendimientos para la mayoría de los animales pequeños se mantienen muy bajos. Aparentemente las diferencias resultan de disparidades en el valor energético relativo de varias taxa, los gastos asociados con atrapar en grupo, y la eficacia con que los recursos son manejados después de su adquisición. Es dudoso que atrapar en grupo plantee un problema interpretativo en la mayoría de los casos, y los bajos rendimientos energéticos obtenidos al atrapar en grupo muchos animales pequeños tienen implicaciones interesantes para la interpretación de cambios en sus frecuencias relativas.

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