Biogeography and adaptation in the Kuril Islands, Northeast Asia.
The Circumpolar North is generally recognized as a challenging environment to inhabit and yet, we know relatively little about how people managed their welfare in these places. Here, we add to the understanding of maritime hunter-gatherers in the subarctic North Pacific through a comparative approach that synthesizes biogeographic and archaeological data from the Kuril Islands. We conclude that our faunal, ceramic and lithic evidence support expectations from biogeography as assemblages from low biodiversity and insular regions show limited diet breadth, more locally produced pottery and a conservation of lithic resources. However, we highlight that these ecological factors did not strictly determine the occupation history of the archipelago as radiocarbon data suggests all regions experienced similar demographic fluctuations regard-less of their biogeography. These results imply additional pressures influenced the strategic use and settlement of the Kuril Islands and the need for increased chronological resolution to disentangle these complex historical factors.