Date of this Version
Scientific Reports 7:40287, DOI: 10.1038/srep40287
Feral swine are globally known as one of the most destructive invasive vertebrates, damaging native habitats, native plants and animals, agriculture, infrastructure, spreading diseases. There has been little quantification on their disturbance to archaeological sites across a broad landscape. Over 6 years we inspected 293 significant archaeological sites for swine disturbance across a vast area. We found a 42% prevalence of swine disturbance among all sites, with prevalence not distinguishable among prehistoric sites, historic sites, and sites with both components. The areas of disturbance mapped within three historic homestead sites showed 5–26% of total site surface area rooted. Disturbance was not evident upon re-inspection of one of these sites after 18 months, indicating how evidence of disturbance can be obscured in this environment. Thus, our observed 42% prevalence of disturbance should be considered a minimum for disturbance occurring through time. Artifacts depths were <10 cm of the surface at 85% of the sites and <20 cm of the surface for 90% of the sites. Feral swine rooting commonly exceeds 20 cm in depth, especially in soft sandy substrates typical of Florida, making the great majority of the studied sites highly vulnerable to artifact damage or displacement.