Human refuse as a major ecological factor in medieval urban vertebrate communities

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Author(s)

Department/unit(s)

Publication details

Title of host publicationHuman Ecodynamics
DatePublished - 2000
Pages15-20
Number of pages5
PublisherOxbow Books
Place of PublicationOxford
Original languageEnglish
ISBN (Print)1842170015

Publication series

NameSymposia of the Association for Environmental Archaeology
PublisherOxbow Books
Volume19

Abstract

Organic refuse, such as food and butchery waste, was commonly deposited in dumps andpits in medieval towns throughout northern Europe. These deposits of refuse attracted and supponed a diverse communily of scavengers and their predators. The organic refuse can be seen as a source of energy that maintained food-webs of donor-controlled populations, giving them potentially high population densities, foundercontrolled response to perturbation, and perhaps a strongly stochastic element in determining which species became dominant at any particular location. The red kite is an example of a scavenger which was strongly dependent on refuse deposition, and it is argued that cats in medieval towns may have lived largely as predators within the refuse-supported food-webs.

Bibliographical note

Reproduced with permission from Oxbow Books.

    Research areas

  • towns, organic refuse, scavengers, food webs

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