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April 2009

Turkey domestication in VEP model

Please note that this content is not current. It is being maintained for historical purposes.

Kyle Bocinsky, a first-year graduate student working as a research assistant to Tim Kohler, has been busy building turkey use into the VEP simulation. Modeling turkey has two components: first, Kyle is generating wild turkey on the landscape, using diffusion algorithms congruent with those already in place for deer. Turkey have a different preferred browse than deer, rabbit, or hare, and will hypothetically choose to exist in different habitats than the other fauna. This component should be completed in early May.

The second component is generating a mechanism by which agents in the simulation may choose to keep and breed turkey (i.e., turkey domes–tication). A first step of generating this module—an in-depth look at costs and payoffs associated with keeping turkey—was completed by Kyle in Fall 2008. The next phase consists of exploring how to model the transmission and adoption domestication practices. This may be done in two primary ways: either agents are always aware of domestication as a strategy, with costs and payoffs, and simply choose that strategy once other strategies prove less effective, or domestication practices (and knowledge) spreads through populations via a transmission algorithm, such as Kobti and Reynold's Cultural Algorithms, which are already implemented in other parts of the model. The use of these for directing the transmission of domestication practices is currently under investigation.

Of course, the mechanisms for spread of turkey domestication practices are hardly understood in the Southwest, and the VEP stands to make great contributions in this regard.  Perhaps both transmission and adoption mechanisms will be modeled; these could be toggled as a parameter, thus allowing VEP researchers to explore whether one matches evidence of turkey domestication practices in the archaeological records with more fidelity.

Kyle is also in the tedious process of documenting the v2.8 VEP simulation codebase, and preparing it for public release, as well as reassessing hunting in v2.8 for the forthcoming VEP I final report.

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