The Holocene biogeographic history of elk (Cervus elaphus) in Western Washington
Harpole, Judith L.
Lyman, R. Lee
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Many mammalian species found today in Washington state experienced a dynamic biogeographic history during the Holocene epoch (last 10,000 years). The elk (Cervus elaphus) was one of those species. Seventy archaeological sites in Washington west of the crest of the Cascade Mountains have produced eighty-eight assemblages of elk remains. The oldest assemblage dates between 6000 and 7000 years ago, but most date to the last 2000 years. Documented assemblages are not a representative sample of the spatial and temporal distribution of elk as a result of how the archaeological record in western Washington has been sampled and the poor preservation of faunal materials in many sites. Available data indicate, however, that elk were widespread between 2000 and 150 years ago. Comparison of the distribution of elk between 2000 and 150 years ago to their late nineteenth and early twentieth century distribution indicates a shift in geographic range over the past 150 years. This shift is attributable to land modification and increased human predation after the middle of the nineteenth century