Skip Navigation


Skip Side Navigation

Research News

Jessica Blanchard

OU Humanities Receive Record-Breaking Grant

Six key humanities programs at the University of Oklahoma will benefit from a $500,000 award from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the largest ever total grant from the NEH for OU. The funding originated through the American Rescue Plan, intended to help humanities organizations across the country that have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. READ MORE 

Jessica Blanchard

Marcus Macktima Receives Fellowship to Support Dissertation Research

Marcus Macktima, a doctoral candidate in the Department of History and graduate of OU's Native American Studies department, was selected as an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Faculty Career Enhancement Fellow by the American Indian College Fund to support his dissertation research. 

Award Highlight

Courtney Hofman, Assistant Professor in the University of Oklahoma's Department of Anthropology



Today, international markets connect supply of and demand for millions of animal products across oceans and continents. The increasing interdependence of societies on the global movement of organisms and their derivatives has had significant negative consequences on biodiversity, ranging from species extinctions to invasions, which in turn impact the quality of ecosystem services provided to people. The economic pathways of our modern global biodiversity harvest practices were established during the 16th-19th centuries by the North American fur trade, offering a lesson in hindsight for understanding today’s complex coupled human-ecological systems. Historians have documented that European demand for beaver, muskrat, mink and other furbearing mammal pelts altered the lifeways of Indigneous North American peoples, and these practices likely represented a shift from thousands of years of traditional harvest practices. However, we know very little about the ecological effects of this massive harvest of key species, despite dramatic species declines likely shaping the structure and function of the North American landscapes around us today. This project will leverage interdisciplinary datasets to understand the evolutionary consequences of mass harvest events, ecosystem engineer declines, and the effects of differing cultural practices on furbearers from the east and west coasts. By design, the project’s methodology intentionally broadens participation of who contributes in the generation and application of these data to questions of interest for scientific researchers, policy-makers and local communities. This project integrates archaeological, historical and modern datasets and specimens to study populations of three furbearing mammal species (beaver, muskrat, mink) through time over the past several thousand years (Late Holocene to present). The researchers apply a diverse methodological toolkit and set of perspectives, including ancient DNA, stable isotope analysis, zooarchaeology, morphometrics and wildlife ecology. By comparing cultures and ecosystems in parallel across the continent (Oregon to Maine), researchers will assess how different cultural practices shaped species and ecological outcomes and how those environmental changes shaped future decisions, practices and social dynamics, collating snapshots of coupled socio-ecological landscapes moving through time to form a powerful multidimensional model of relevance to biodiversity conservation and traditional livelihoods. This model demonstrates how and why species recover, and what the signatures of recovery look like across different datasets that may not be typically aligned and jointly analyzed. Long-term datasets of resilience and recovery provide valuable and applicable lessons for mechanisms such as local furbearer management and the IUCN Green List.