Research

I encourage students interested in stable isotope applications to animal diets, migration, and environments, and/or community-engaged research to contact me about opportunities for us to work together.

My research is at the interface of archaeology and large mammal ecology. I use isotopic analyses and other techniques to investigate human-animal-environment interactions in the past and present, particularly in terrestrial North American ecosystems. My research on proboscideans (mammoths and mastodons) in Yukon, Alberta, southwestern Ontario, and Arizona has provided insight into vegetation and climate histories and mammoth weaning patterns. I am also committed to improving the quality of isotopic methodologies, including analytical methods for bone carbonate analysis, growth rate determinations, post-depositional isotopic alteration of archaeological plant remains, hair identification, and best practices for reporting isotopic data.

 Most of my recent research focuses on bison behaviour and bison-hunting in western North America. I am currently investigating isotopic records of bison diet and mobility in Elk Island National Park (Alberta) and the Henry Mountains (Utah). My SSHRC Insight Development Grant (2019) will be used to fund research in Tsattine/Beaver traditional territory (Peace Region of Alberta) and in southern Idaho/northern Utah. Although far apart geographically, these areas have key similarities: they are at or beyond the periphery of colonial-era Dene territories, they supported bison during the Late Prehistoric period prior to bison extirpation from the regions, they were used by Dene people to hunt bison in the past, and they lack C4 grasses (a critical factor for isotopic interpretations). Tsattine territory is a critical area for movement by humans and animals between the Subarctic and the Plains. There, wood bison and plains bison territory meet, and Apachean ancestors may have begun to transition to a Plains way of life. Further south, the Promontory Caves of northern Utah were occupied in the late 13th century AD by a group of bison hunters hypothesized to be Apachean ancestors. The overall goal of this research is to combine Western science and Indigenous perspectives on Late Prehistoric Dene bison hunting and mobility in these two regions. We argue that studying bison hunting in these two disparate areas will be a unique and effective strategy for examining long-distance Dene migrations in the Late Prehistoric period. This research will be conducted in partnership with Victoria Wanihadie (Tsattine Resurgence Society) and researchers from Lakehead University, Western University, the University of Alberta, and the University of British Columbia.