R. Lee Lyman


A primary research interest concerns the mammalian faunal history of Washington state and adjacent areas (Oregon, Idaho). Generally I seek to discern the biogeographic history of individual taxa, the morphological (chronoclinal) history of individual taxa, and the paleoclimatic implications of biogeographic and size change of species. My research demands knowledge of taphonomic and quantitative issues as well as a diverse set of analytical techniques and biological and ecological principles and concepts. These are topics that my students learn if they have an interest in zooarchaeology.

Nearly as important as the first, since the late 1980s I have explored the implications of zooarchaeological research in particular and paleozoological research in general for conservation biology and wildlife management. I have published widely on this topic, including several case studies in biological conservation journals, as well as two books (one authored, one co-edited). Students under my direction are beginning to apply analytical tools developed in paleozoology such as analysis of ancient DNA and trace-element analysis to paleo-mammalian remains with conservation implications driving their research. I suspect this will become a common-place research tactic as long-curated collections are revisited with new analytical techniques in hand.

A third research interest concerns the epistemology and history of Americanist archaeology. As of 2008, this aspect of my research is winding down, though I continue to teach the history of archaeology and of biological anthropology as part of the required graduate curricula. Other research interests include the modification and application of Darwinian evolutionary theory to cultural, particularly archaeological, phenomena.