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Ecological Dynamics on Yellowstone’s Northern Range
hand, the herd can disperse for several miles and be hard to find (Frison 1978). These differences, as well as others, could easily account for the faunal differences at Bugas-Holding and hence the abundance of remains at the site is not necessarily related to the abundance of the animals.
The Joe Miller site (48AB18) is the only archaeological excavation in Wyoming where elk are the most common ungulate (Kay 1990). Creasman et al. (1982) concluded that the upper component of the Joe Miller site represents an area for processing elk.
Kay has shown that elk bones are generally not as abundant as the bones of other ungulates such as bison, deer, sheep, and pronghorn. The paucity of elk bones could reflect low population levels as postulated by Kay (1990) and others (Keigley and Wagner 1998), but it is just as likely, and perhaps more probable, that differences in the abundances of bones are an artifact of processes by which bones were accumulated. Also, lumping of quantitative data from different stratigraphic levels, as done by Kay (1990), has created samples time-averaged over as much as 10,000 years, virtually the span of the entire Holocene. Also, grouping of data, as done by Kay (1990) by combining different stratigraphic units within sites, probably mixes various accumulation pathways for these stratigraphic levels, which again would significantly bias the frequency distributions.