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

O'Connor, T.P. (2000) Human refuse as a major ecological factor in medieval urban vertebrate communities. In: Bailey, G., Charles, R. and Winder, N., (eds.) Human Ecodynamics. Symposia of the Association for Environmental Archaeology . Oxbow Books , Oxford , pp. 15-20. ISBN 1842170015

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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.

Item Type: Book Section
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: Reproduced with permission from Oxbow Books.
Keywords: towns,organic refuse,scavengers,food webs
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Archaeology (York)
Depositing User: Repository Officer
Date Deposited: 16 Jan 2006
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2016 21:01
Status: Published
Publisher: Oxbow Books
Refereed: No
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/935

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