Research Smorgasbord at the Smithsonian

Authored By: Shannon Clark ’18 Zooarchaeology Lab Social Media Intern

The Lab Travels to the Smithsonian!

This month our team members, Dr. Caroline Funk and Ariel Taivalkoski, are traveling to the Smithsonian for species level avifaunal analysis. Analysis will be conducted for the purpose of our NSF funded research (NSF-PLR-1522972; PI: Catherine West, UB PI: Caroline Funk) which aims to provide “test cases” of archaeological adaptations to coastal communities throughout the Arctic facing potentially major climate change.

So far for this project, our lab has been analyzing Holocene Arctic avifaunal remains to family level. Some of these bones have been loaned to us for the NSF project by the Smithsonian and some have been sent to us from NSF site UNL-048 (Margaret Bay 4700BP). In order to take our diagnostic elements to species level, our lab would need hundreds of regionally appropriate skeletons for comparison, a resource that we do not currently possess here in our Buffalo lab. Thankfully, the Smithsonian has many regionally appropriate skeletons due to previous harvesting and skeletonization of birds from Alaska.

For this trip we will take all the bones in our possession to the Smithsonian to compare them with their substantial, regionally appropriate, collection in hopes of bringing our diagnostic elements to species level and précising our research.