Prehistoric, historic, and present settlement patterns related to ecological hierarchy in the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan, U.S.A.

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The distribution of human occupation across a landscape provides information about how people use the landscape, about patterns of economic development, and about social interactions of human groups. When the distributions are examined over several thousand years, we gain an evolutionary understanding, not only of the people and their cultural patterns, but also of physical landscape development. The focus of this assessment was to examine and compare settlement patterns of prehistoric, historic, and present time periods, based on known cultural sites in the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan, U.S.A., and to generate hypotheses about the interaction of settlement pattern and landscape change at multiple scales. Patterns of settlement among the three time periods were compared at three geographic scales: by subregional ecosystems, by landscape ecosystems and by terrain characteristics. The Michigan Bureau of History database of archaeological sites was searched for prehistoric habitation sites of Middle or Late Woodland period (ca. 3000-300 years before present). Historic occupations were drawn from pre-European settlement landscape data based on General Land Office survey notes of the 1850s. We extracted "urban" categories from land cover classified from Landsat Thematic Mapper imagery to measure present occupations. Spatial patterns and dynamics of settlement areas in each time period were examined using the ARC/INFO geographic information system (GIS). Results showed a tendency for settlement in all time periods on the bedrock and lowland landscape groups near Great Lakes shorelines, generally occupying slopes less than two percent. The distribution of present occupations, in terms of both slope aspect and geographic subregion (multi-scalar), was similar to the distribution of prehistoric occupations. Both prehistoric and present sites were primarily south facing and were frequently found along Green Bay and Lake Michigan shorelines. © 1997 Kluwer Academic Publishers.

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Landscape Ecology