The Socioecology of Initial Domestication in Eastern North America

To better understand the causes and consequences of the initial domestication of native crops in interior Eastern North America, I have analyzed radiocarbon date frequencies, site locations, and faunal data from the region in order to test the hypothesis that population growth and/or climate change led to subsistence intensification and eventually domestication. This research is conducted in part with Brian Codding from the University of Utah, Stephen Carmody from Troy University, and David Zeanah from California State University, Sacramento.

Relevant Publications:

Weitzel, Elic M., Brian F. Codding, Stephen B. Carmody, and David W. Zeanah (in press) Food production and domestication produced both cooperative and competitive social dynamics in eastern North America. Environmental Archaeology . [link]


Weitzel, Elic M. (2019) Declining foraging efficiency prior to initial domestication in the Middle Tennessee River Valley. American Antiquity. 84(2): 191-214. [link]

Weitzel, Elic M. and Brian F. Codding (2016) Population growth as a driver of initial domestication in Eastern North America. Royal Society Open Science. 3(8):160319. [link]

The Ecological Consequences of European Settler-Colonialism in Southern New England

I am also working to evaluate the ecological consequences of European settler-colonialism in southern New England, specifically with reference to Indigenous depopulation, changes in landscape management, and the integration of Native peoples into an extractive capitalist European economic system. To do so, I am evaluating archaeological evidence of white-tailed deer exploitation through time and employing agent-based modeling to investigate the causes and consequences of niche construction in the region, as well as more broadly.


Relevant Publications:

Weitzel, Elic M. (in press) Environmental rebound and disruption of Indigenous land management following European colonization of southern New England. In Questioning Rebound: People and Environmental Change in the Protohistoric and Early Historic Americas, edited by Jacob Fisher and Emily Lena Jones. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, pp. 97-115.


Weitzel, Elic (2021) The Ecology of the First Thanksgiving. Scientific American 

Weitzel, Elic (2020) Are Pandemics Good for the Environment? Sapiens Magazine.