The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

Geography - Geographic Information Science: M.S.


Geography and Planning


School of Public Affairs

First Advisor

Mikhail Blinnikov

Second Advisor

Jeffrey Torguson

Third Advisor

Mark P Muñiz

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

caribou, Vegetation maps, Great Lakes, Paleovegetation


Our understanding of how the first people came to North America is still incomplete. The most common idea is that the earliest people have traveled the ice-free corridor between the Laurentide ice sheet and the Cordilleran ice sheet at around 12,000 14C yrs BP. These early people are recognized as great hunters who followed mammoth and other megafauna which supplied most of their food needs. After the extinction of the mammoth these early humans may have switched to hunting caribou (Rangifer sp.) and other smaller species. Caribou traveled in herds which made them easier to hunt and also provided hides to make warm winter clothing. In this work, we attempt to trace presumed caribou habitat in the post-glacial North America by tracking open spruce-sedge forest ecosystem which is postulated to have been the prime habitat for caribou. We produced series of vegetation maps for a portion of north-central North America from the time when the earliest people entered North America to the time period when the whole of ice sheet drained completely to the Hudson Bay i.e. from 12,000 14C yrs. BP to 8,000 14C yrs. BP. We used existing pollen records in the Neotoma database with additional records from the literature centered on Minnesota and Wisconsin. The caribou vegetation suitability mapping from point data was accomplished using IDW and cluster analysis. Using our maps, one can locate most optimal future sites for the archaeological analysis of possible caribou kills and/or earliest human habitat in north-central North America.


I am very thankful to my supervisor, Mikhail S. Blinnikov, for guiding me from the start to completion of my thesis. I also appreciate valuable suggestions from my other committee members, Jeffery Torguson and Mark P Muñiz. I am indebted to Simon Gosling and Jack Williams from University of Wisconsin, Madison for providing me with necessary information regarding the usage of Neotoma database. I would also like to show my gratitude to Tom Oien, for providing me with the software required for analysis of data. I am grateful to David Wall during the initial stage of the project, with his feedback upon the literature review. Finally, I would like to thank all of my friends for helping me while I was working with my thesis.

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