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Human refuse as a major ecological factor in medieval urban vertebrate communities

By T.P. O'Connor

Abstract

Organic refuse, such as food and butchery waste, was commonly deposited in dumps andpits in medieval towns throughout northern Europe. These deposits of refuse attracted and supponed a diverse communily of scavengers and their predators. The organic refuse can be seen as a source of energy that maintained food-webs of donor-controlled populations, giving them potentially high population densities, foundercontrolled response to perturbation, and perhaps a strongly stochastic element in determining which species became dominant at any particular location. The red kite is an example of a scavenger which was strongly dependent on refuse deposition, and it is argued that cats in medieval towns may have lived largely as predators within the refuse-supported food-webs

Publisher: Oxbow Books
Year: 2000
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.whiterose.ac.uk:935

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