Don H. Butler
University of Alaska Fairbanks Centennial Postdoctoral Fellow; Department of Anthropology; Bunnell 316
Education: Postdoc, 2015-2019, Geoarchaeology, University of Haifa; PhD, 2015, Archaeology, University of Calgary; MA, 2008, Anthropology (Archaeology), Memorial University of Newfoundland; BA Hons., 2006, Anthropology (Archaeology), Memorial University of Newfoundland
Research interests: During my graduate and postdoctoral training at Memorial University of Newfoundland, University of Calgary, and University of Haifa, I developed a strong interest in clarifying localized human-environment dynamics in marginal settings using approaches that crosscut anthropology, geoarchaeology, and ecology. Archaeological tracking of feedback among changing social, cultural, and environmental conditions over the long-term is a powerful way of modelling prospective socio-ecological resilience and vulnerabilities in fragile regions. My research on this subject primarily emphasizes consiliences among archaeological and sedimentary archives in order to understand resource management and land-use in harsh frontier environments. I have collaborated on projects that include a wide range of northern people and environments, from Inuit pioneers in the Torngat Mountains, ancient Athabaskan caribou hunters of the Barrenlands, to the Mesolithic fishers of Lapland.
My current research investigates human/wildlife adaptations to pressured environments in eastern Beringia. This interdisciplinary collaboration contributes to reconciling archaeological and terrestrial/limnological palaeoecological records in the Tanana Basin of central Alaska. Our work tracks boreal wetland responses to environmental and climactic shifts. Archives from the Upward Sun River, Mead, Delta River Overlook, Gerstle River, and Broken Mammoth sites and their environs are used to a) map spatiotemporal interplay among wetland, dune field, shrub-tundra, and forest mosaics, b) pinpoint the impacts of changing wetland health on local biodiversity, and c) delineate how waterfowl availability and mutable wetland marginality contributed to diversifying people’s adaptive strategies in the region.
Additional projects I am collaborating on include characterizing site formation processes at a Subarctic sand dune site, identifying proxy signatures for ancient northern anadromous salmon fisheries, exploring the contribution of wetland eutrophication to the onset of high-latitude agriculture, and highlighting community-scale responses collapsing agropastoral niches in the southeastern borderlands of the Byzantine Empire.