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      Fire Ecology, Animal Populations and Man: a Study of some Ecological Relationships in Prehistory.

      Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society

      Cambridge University Press (CUP)

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          Abstract

          The occurrence of fires in many types of woodland and forested environments would have benefited human populations in several different ways. In addition to greatly increasing the mobility of the human groups, the occurrence of fire in many types of forest would have led to substantial improvements in the economic potential of the environment. Improvements in both the quantity and nutritional quality of the food supplies available to herbivorous animals would have increased not only the total carrying capacity of the environment for these species, but also the relative growth-rates and reproductive rate of the animals. In certain cases it is likely that burning would have increased the overall ‘productivity’ of ungulate populations by a factor of × 10. Similar improvements may have been achieved in the yields of certain vegetable food resources. The potential impact of these environmental changes on the population numbers and settlement patterns of human communities is discussed, and it is suggested that the adoption of systematic policies of forest burning by hunting and gathering populations may have led in certain situations to the emergence of more complex patterns of man-animal relationships which were closely similar to those of traditional ‘herding’ or ‘pastoralist’ economies.

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          Most cited references 20

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          The Indian as an Ecological Factor in the Northeastern Forest

           Gordon Day (1953)
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            The Primitive Hunter Culture, Pleistocene Extinction, and the Rise of Agriculture

             Vernon Smith (1975)
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              The Dynamics of Three Natural Populations of the Deer Odocoileus Hemionus Columbianus

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                Author and article information

                Journal
                applab
                Proceedings of the Prehistoric Society
                Proc. Prehist. Soc.
                Cambridge University Press (CUP)
                0079-497X
                2050-2729
                December 1976
                May 2014
                : 42
                :
                : 15-45
                Article
                10.1017/S0079497X00010689
                © 1976

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