Dylan S. Davis

Dylan is a Postdoctoral Research Scientist in the Climate School and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. He is an archaeologist specializing in remote sensing applications and human-environmental interaction. Dylan's research interests primarily focus on human responses to hypervariable conditions. In particular, he's interested in how societal actions can influence environmental systems, and how people are impacted by unpredictable climatic conditions. Most of Dylan's work focuses on island and coastal regions and makes use of geospatial methods (e.g., remote sensing, GIS, network analysis) in conjunction with archaeological, ethnographic, and paleoecological data. Ultimately, his work seeks to further our understanding of how people interact with and are affected by their environment. Dylan's ongoing research seeks to understand the role that socioeconomic strategies play in long-term ecological change across landscapes. Specifically, his postdoctoral research focuses on how ecological systems are impacted by foraging, pastoralism, and agricultural activities. Dylan earned his Ph.D. in Anthropology in 2022 from Penn State. He also has an MA (2018) and BS (2017) in Anthropology and a BA (2017) in Geography from Binghamton University. Dylan currently serves on the Editorial Board of Archaeological Prospection as an Early Career Researcher.

Fields of Interest

remote sensing applications within archaeological research; social science applications of machine learning and AI; complex adaptive systems; human-environment dynamics pertaining to settlement and land-use strategies; island and coastal archaeology


2022 - Ph.D. Anthropology, The Pennsylvania State University

2018 - M.A. Anthropology, Binghamton University

2017 - B.S. Anthropology, Binghamton University (concentration in Archaeology)

2017 - B.A. Geography, Binghamton University (concentration in Computer Applications for Human Environmental Analysis)

In Progress

Davis, D. S., and K. Douglass (In Review). Landscape Dynamics and Settlement Patterns in Southwest Madagascar since the Late Holocene. In The Malagasy World, edited by Chantal Radimilahy, Kristina Douglass, and Zoë Crossland, Routledge Handbooks Online: Routledge.

Davis, D. S., and K. Douglass (In Review). Remote Sensing and the Ethics of Bird’s Eye Investigations in African Archaeology: a push towards participatory practice. In Participatory mapping and ppgis: research futures, potentials, and promises, edited by McCall, M. K., Panek, J., & Álvarez Larrain, A.,  Edward Elger.

Phelps, L. N., E. Razanatsoa, D. S. Davis, J. Hackel, T. Rasolondrainy, G. Tiley, R.L. et al. (In Review). Sustainability of ecosystems and livelihoods across the tropics hinges on interdisciplinary grassy biomes research. Submitted to Ecological Monographs.

Phelps, L. N., S. Hixon, D.S. Davis, R. Fernandes, P. Feina, C. Randolph, C. Anyanwu, S. Monroe, K. Douglass (In Review). African livelihoods: isotopic niches reflect human resilience & livelihood diversification in the face of Holocene climate change. Submitted to One Earth. Under Revision

D. S. Davis, and E. R. Oátrola-Castillo (In Preparation). Am I free to go (or stay)? A stochastic approach to ideal distribution modeling. To be submitted to Advances in Archaeological Practice

Hackel, J., D. S. Davis, T. Rasolondrainy, E. Razanatsoa, G. Tiley, L.N. Phelps (In Preparation). Madagascar's grassy biomes, from Holocene to Anthropocene. To be submitted to Plants, People, Planet.


Davis, D. S., A. Domic, G. Manahira, and  K. Douglass (2024).  Geophysics demonstrate similarities and differences between long-term ecological impacts of foraging, pastoralism, and mixed subsistence strategies on SW Madagascar. Journal of Anthropological Archaeology. 75: 101612 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaa.2024.101612

Davis, D. S., B. Tucker, Tsiazonera, R. Justome, Z. M. Chrisostome, B. V. Pierre, A. Domic, L. Phelps, A. Ibirogba, C. Mangut, C. E. Klehm, and K. Douglass (2024).  Archaeology, Ethnography, and Geosciences reveal central role of traditional lifeways in shaping Madagascar's dry forests. Journal of Social Archaeology. In Press. https://doi.org/10.1177/14696053241260032.

Davis, D. S., R. J. DiNapoli, T. L. Hunt, and C. P. Lipo (2024). Island-wide characterization of agricultural production challenges the demographic collapse hypothesis for Rapa Nui (Easter Island). Science Advances. 10(25): eado1459. https://doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.ado1459.

Davis, D. S., Cook-Hale, J. W, Hale, N., and  M. C. Sanger (2024).  Uncovering submerged settlement patterns using bathymetric lidar and semi-automated feature extraction. Archaeological Prospection. 31(2): 171-186. https://doi.org/10.1002/arp.1939

Alders, W., D. S. Davis, & J. J. Haines (2024). Archaeology in the fourth dimension: studying landscapes with multitemporal PlanetScope satellite data. Submitted to Journal of Archaeological Method and Theory. In Press. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10816-024-09644-x


Davis, D. S. (2023). Past, present, and future of complex systems theory in archaeology. Journal of Archaeological Research. In Press. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10814-023-09193-z 

D. S. Davis, T. Rasolondrainy, G. Manahira, V. Andriankaja, L. Hubertine, R. Justome, F. Lahiniriko, H. Léonce, R. Roi, F. Victorian, C. Colombe, V. Voahirana, T. L. Carina, Z. M. Chrisostome, B. Manjakahery, and K. Douglass (2023). Social networks as risk-mitigation strategies in south-west Madagascar. Antiquity, 97(395), 1296-1312. https://doi.org/10.15184/aqy.2023.123

Quintus, S., D. S. Davis, and E. E. Cochrane (2023).  Evaluating Mask R-CNN Models to Extract Terracing across Oceanic High Islands: an example from Sāmoa. Archaeological Prospection. 30(4): 477-492https://doi.org/10.1002/arp.1909

Davis, D. S. (2023). Review of "Human Behavioral Ecology and Coastal Environments." Heather B. Thakar and Carola Flores Fernandez, editors. 2023. University Press of Florida, Gainesville. Xviii + 275 pp. $85.00 (hardcover), ISBN 978-0-8130-6958-6. American Antiquity. 88(4): 588-589. https://doi.org/10.1017/aaq.2023.31

D. S. Davis, G. Manahira, F. Lahiniriko, V. Andriankaja, T. L. Carnat, M. B. J. Clovis, F. Fenomanana, L. Hubertine, R. Justome, H. Léonce, A. J. Yve, R. Roi, P. Soafiavy, F. Victorian, V. Voahirana, R. Flerita, Z. M. Chrisostome, and K. Douglass (2023). Evidence of lithic blade technology in southwest Madagascar. The Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology. http://doi.org/10.1080/15564894.2022.2152139.

Cook-Hale, J. W.*, Davis, D. S.*, and  M. C. Sanger (2023).  Evaluating the archaeological efficacy of bathymetric LiDAR across oceanographic contexts: A case study from Apalachee Bay, Florida. Heritage. 6(2), 928-945. http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/heritage6020051 (*Denotes Equal Contribution)


Phelps, L. N., N. Andela, M. Gravey, D. S. Davis, C. A. Kull, K. Douglass, K., and C. E. R. Lehmann (2022). Madagascar's fire regimes challenge global assumptions about landscape degradation. Global Change Biology28(3), 6944-6960 http://doi.org/10.1111/gcb.16206


Davis, D. S., and J. Lundin (2021). Locating Charcoal Production Sites in Sweden Using Hydrological Algorithms and Deep Learning. Remote Sensing.13(18), 3680. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs13183680

Davis, D. S., and K. Douglass (2021). Remote Sensing Reveals Lasting Legacies of Land-Use by Small-Scale Communities in the southwestern Indian Ocean. Frontiers in Ecology and Evolution. 9, 689399 https://doi.org/10.3389/fevo.2021.689399

Davis, D. S., and M. C. Sanger (2021). Ethical Challenges in the Practice of Remote Sensing and Geophysical Archaeology. Archaeological Prospection28(3), 269-276. https://doi.org/10.1002/arp.1837

Davis, D. S., G. Caspari, C. P. Lipo, and M. C. Sanger (2021). Deep Learning Reveals Extent of Archaic Native American Shell Ring Building Practices. Journal of Archaeological Science132, 105433 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2021.105433

Davis, D. S., G. Caspari, M. C. Sanger, and C. P. Lipo (2021). Using Deep Learning to Detect Rare Archaeological Features: A Case from Coastal South Carolina, USA. Society of Exploration Geophysicists Technical Program Expanded Abstracts: 3265-3269. https://doi.org/10.1190/segam2021-3574963.1

Davis, D. S. (2021). Theoretical repositioning of automated remote sensing archaeology: Shifting from features to ephemeral landscapes. Journal of Computer Applications in Archaeology4(1), 94-109. https://doi.org/10.5334/jcaa.72

Davis, D. S., D. C. Buffa, T. Rasolondrainy, E. Creswell, C. Anyanwu, A. Ibirogba, C. Randolph, A. Ouarghidi, L. N. Phelps, F. Lahiniriko, Z. M. Chrisostome, G. Manahira and K. Douglass (2021). The aerial panopticon and the ethics of archaeological remote sensing sacred cultural spaces. Archaeological Prospection28(3), 303-318. https://doi.org/10.1002/arp.1819

Davis, D. S., K. E. Seeber, and M. C. Sanger (2021). Addressing the problem of disappearing cultural landscapes in archaeological research using multi-scalar survey. Journal of Island and Coastal Archaeology16(2-4), 524-540. http://doi.org/10.1080/15564894.2020.1803457


Davis, D. S., R. J. DiNapoli, and K. Douglass (2020). Integrating point process models, evolutionary ecology, and traditional knowledge improves landscape archaeology: A case from Southwest Madagascar. Geosciences10(8), 287. https://doi.org/10.3390/geosciences10080287

Davis, D. S. (2020). Defining what we study: The contribution of machine automation in archaeological research. Digital Applications in Archaeology and Cultural Heritage18, e00152. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.daach.2020.e00152

Davis, D. S., DiNapoli, R. J., Sanger, M. C., & Lipo, C. P. (2020). The integration of lidar and legacy datasets provides improved explanations for the spatial patterning of shell rings in the American Southeast. Advances in Archaeological Practice8(4), 361-375. https://doi.org/10.1017/aap.2020.18

Davis, D. S., Buffa, D. C., & Wrobleski, A. C. (2020). Assessing the utility of open-access bathymetric data for shipwreck detection in the United States. Heritage 3(2), 364-383. https://doi.org/10.3390/heritage3020022

Davis, D. S. (2020). Geographic disparity in machine intelligence approaches for archaeological remote sensing research. Remote Sensing12(1), 921. https://doi.org/10.3390/rs12060921

Davis, D. S., & Douglass, K. (2020). Aerial and Spaceborne Remote Sensing in African Archaeology: A Review of Current Research and Potential Future Avenues. African Archaeological Review37(1), 9–24. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10437-020-09373-y

Davis, D. S., Andriankaja, V., Carnat, T. L., Chrisostome, Z. M., Colombe, C., Fenomanana, F., Hubertine, L., Justome, R., Lahiniriko, F., Léonce, H., Manahira, G., Pierre, B. V., Roi, R., Soafiavy, P., Victorian, F., Voahirana, V., Manjakahery, B., & Douglass, K. (2020). Satellite-based remote sensing rapidly reveals extensive record of Holocene coastal settlement on Madagascar. Journal of Archaeological Science115, 105097. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jas.2020.105097

Davis, D. S. (2020). Studying human responses to environmental change: Trends and trajectories of archaeological research. Environmental Archaeology25(4), 367-380. https://doi.org/10.1080/14614103.2019.1639338


Davis, D. S. (2019). Object-based image analysis: A review of developments and future directions of automated feature detection in landscape archaeology. Archaeological Prospection26(2), 155–163. https://doi.org/10.1002/arp.1730

Davis, D. S., Lipo, C. P., & Sanger, M. C. (2019). A comparison of automated object extraction methods for mound and shell-ring identification in coastal South Carolina. Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports23, 166–177. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jasrep.2018.10.035

Davis, D. S., Sanger, M. C., & Lipo, C. P. (2019). Automated mound detection using lidar and object-based image analysis in Beaufort County, South Carolina. Southeastern Archaeology38(1), 23–37. https://doi.org/10.1080/0734578X.2018.1482186