This paper explores a central place foraging model with data on Meriam intertidal shellfish gathering strategies, field processing practices, patterns of resource transport, and consequences of these factors for introducing variability in shell assemblage composition among these Islanders of the eastern Torres Strait, Australia. As a result of differential field processing and shell material transport, we show that some species are likely to be consistently over-represented in shell assemblages while others are likely to be under-represented relative to their actual dietary importance. Explanations for this behavior are tested with the predictions of a central place forging model derived from behavioral ecology. We find consistent relationships between the anticipated and observed patterns of transport for five species. These results have implications for current thought about the relationship between faunal assemblages and transport behavior in a wide array of contexts, interpretations of site function and settlement patterns, and arguments about role of shellfish in prehistoric diets.
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