Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationWayne State U.
Grant numberGr. 9907
Approve DateOctober 24, 2019
Project TitleJorgensen, Kelsey (Wayne State U.) "Documenting Ancient Human Migration through the Co-Evolution of the Andean Potato Weevil"
Human migration often results in great evolutionary changes through genetics, and the cultural exchange of ideas and technology. This proposal seeks to understand the paths and timing of ancient human migration through the Peruvian Andes at the time of potato domestication, about 8,000 to 10,000 years ago, through the use of an innovative proxy: the Andean Potato Weevil. The flightless Andean Potato Weevil (APW) is the primary pest of the Andean potato and unable to traverse long distances independently. This project hypothesizes that the present-day niches of the APW are actually reflective of ancient human migration patterns, since new species of APWs could only have arisen if they were completely separated from their “parent” populations. This speciation event likely occurred when ancient humans carried the domesticated potato, with this tiny hitchhiker, to new locations. To test this hypothesis, analysis will focus on uniting the evolutionary development of this insect proxy with ethnographic and archaeological constructs of social networks, such as the “vertical archipelago” model. This project aims to significantly further biocultural contributions to multispecies anthropology, by using the novel approach of applying insect genetics to understanding ancient human migration in the Peruvian Andes during initial potato domestication.